Due to a shroud of secrecy surrounding the raids on multiple Asian spas in Spokane, Judge James Triplet ruled in favor of two spa owners who demanded their seized property be returned.
It has been six months since the raids on eight Asian spas, that were subsequently shut down for suspicion of prostitution, promoting prostitution, money laundering, criminal profiteering and controlled substances.
Thursday in court, attorneys for two of the spa owners demanded police return all items seized during the raids. The owners include Chin Sim Day, who ran Oriental Spa North on Francis, and Yong Cha Kassim, who operated Joe Jean’s Oriental Spa on North Division.
Defense Attorney Carl Oreskovich argued that because the state used a secret process to obtain search warrants and has offered no proof of evidence six months after the raids, his client, Day, deserves to have her property back.
Prosecutors told Judge Triplet their case is still sealed, therefore they cannot return the property as it is considered evidence.
Judge Triplet took a 20-minute recess before ruling in favor of the spa owners, citing that the burden of proof falls on the state as to whether the seizure of property was legal, and since the prosecution cannot talk about the case because it’s under special inquiry, they cannot offer proof that the seizure was legal.
This victory in court for the spa owners does not mean the case is over. Prosecutors can still move forward with their case, despite having to turn over the seized items.