ST. GEORGE — A St. George businessman was arrested Wednesday on 16 charges in connection with the ongoing investigation of five Washington County massage parlors allegedly involved in criminal activity.
Brett Allan Labrum, 48, of Washington City, was booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility Wednesday on a second-degree felony count of forcible sexual abuse, four class A misdemeanor counts of not having a massage parlor business license, six class B misdemeanor counts of lewdness and five class B misdemeanor counts of sexual solicitation.
On Jan. 10 and Jan. 11, as part of a multiagency operation and investigation into prostitution, sexual solicitation and Utah business license violations, search warrants were served at Japan Massage, Golden Coast Massage and Massage Therapy, each located in St. George, along with Dixie Massage, with locations in both St. George and Washington City.
“Several arrests were made during the two-day operation,” St. George Police Officer Lona Trombley said Thursday. “The investigation has been ongoing as a large amount of collected data was analyzed and many interviews were conducted.”
Authorities arrested Labrum – who was determined to be the owner of both Dixie Massage businesses – after analyzing data and evidence collected at the two parlors and conducting interviews, Trombley said.
According to a probable cause statement filed by the St. George Police Department in connection with Labrum’s arrest, an investigation into Dixie Massage, located at 225 N. Bluff St. in St. George, was initiated in June 2016 after information was gathered indicating sex acts had been taking place in the establishment.
Investigators began conducting surveillance on the establishment and found a vehicle registered to Labrum would frequent the establishment. Authorities discovered this office space was rented to Labrum, according to the statement. Investigators followed Labrum’s vehicle to a second establishment located at 43 N. 300 West in Washington City and found this office space also rented in Labrum’s name.
A search warrant was obtained to place a tracker on Labrum’s vehicle, which allegedly showed his vehicle frequenting both establishments almost daily – many times, numerous times per day, the report stated.
“Investigators sent multiple undercover officers into both establishments posing as clients seeking body massages,” the arresting officer wrote in the sworn statement. “During the undercover operations, the officers were able to negotiate sex acts in exchange for money. The acts were declined by the undercover officers.”
When investigators executed search warrants on both massage parlors Jan. 10, they seized phones, tablets, laptops and surveillance systems from both locations and questioned Labrum at the St. George Police Department.
During the interview, Labrum reportedly told police that he had purchased Dixie Massage in September 2016 and that there were four Asian female employees that worked there as needed, according to the statement.
“He further admitted to scheduling all appointments for the employees knowing they were not licensed to be giving full body massages,” the arresting officer wrote. “Labrum denied any knowledge of sex acts occurring in his establishment.”
Labrum’s alleged knowledge of the women not being licensed subsequently resulted in Wednesday’s four charges of not having a massage parlor business license.
At that time, investigators decided not to arrest Labrum until they had reviewed information found on the electronic devices that had been seized, the report stated.
Meanwhile, authorities questioned the Asian women working at the establishment. One of the women reportedly told investigators she had worked at Dixie Massage since November 2015.
While undercover officers were reportedly able to negotiate sex acts at the establishment in exchange for money, according to the probable cause statement, Labrum allegedly was not.
According to the statement, the woman allegedly told authorities that on five different occasions prior to Labrum buying the establishment, he requested she perform a sexual act on him. These allegations are the basis of the five charges of sexual solicitation brought against Labrum.
The woman told police she declined Labrum’s request which, she alleged, prompted Labrum to perform the sex act on himself in front of her. This allegation is the basis of the lewdness charge against Labrum.
A second woman told investigators she had worked at Dixie Massage since March 2016. During questioning, the woman reportedly told police about two interactions with Labrum, one while he was a client and one while he was the owner.
During the first incident, the woman allegedly told police she was giving Labrum a massage when he grabbed her hand and placed it on his genitalia, but she pulled her hand away, the officer wrote in his statement. This allegation resulted in Labrum’s second-degree felony count of forcible sexual abuse.
According to the statement, the woman told police the second incident occurred when Labrum allegedly performed a sex act on himself in front of her. This allegation resulted in the additional lewdness charge against him.
St. George News spoke with Labrum’s defense attorney, Jay Winward, about the charges and allegations. Winward released the following statement:
We dispute the allegations. We have been cooperating with the investigation since early January. We look forward to the litigation process.
Following his arrest Wednesday, Labrum was released from custody on $25,280 bail pending trial.
Trombley said the investigation is ongoing, noting that the St. George Police Department has been assisted in the operation by Homeland Security Investigations, Operation Underground Railroad, Utah Statewide Intelligence and Analysis Center, the Department of Professional Licensing, Washington City Police Department, Asian Association of Utah, Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Washington County Attorney’s Office.
As this report is published, the St. George Police Department had not confirmed whether the two witnesses in the case may have had any concerns about their alien status.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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