Lawsuit claims massage license is being unlawfully withheld
By Justin Wier
A woman intending to open a massage parlor in Austintown filed a petition asking a court to require the township board of trustees either to issue her a license or show cause for denying it.
Jean Derrico owns New Spa LLC at 5325 Seventy-Six Drive.
According to the petition filed this week in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, Derrico filed a massage-establishment application with the township Sept. 9. Section VI F of the township zoning regulations relating to massage establishments states that the board of trustees has 20 days to approve or deny the application. As of Thursday, Derrico had not heard from the board.
Trustee Ken Carano said there are mitigating circumstances and the board is looking for more information before it can make the decision. Carano said he has not seen the petition and did not want to comment further.
Atty. David Betras, who is representing Derrico, said she has met all of the requirements necessary to receive the license.
“They don’t want a massage parlor opening up there, but they don’t have that choice,” Betras said. “She either fulfills the requirements or she doesn’t.”
The board approved a stricter application process for massage establishments in 2014. The resolution approved by the board states that appropriate regulation may diminish the incidence of unlawful sexual activities in massage establishments. It also says previous measures did not adequately protect the health, safety and morals of residents.
Zoning Inspector Darren Crivelli said there are no massage parlors currently operating in Austintown.
The petition says Detective Lt. Jeff Solic of the Austintown Police Department is assigned by the township to review massage-establishment applications. It also says that the board, through Solic, has indicated its intent to deny the application.
Solic declined to comment on the petition because he has not seen it, but he said two Asian-style massage parlors have operated out of that storefront in the past. One received a conviction for prostitution-related offenses, and the other is under indictment for prostitution-related offenses.
The latter case involved Grace Sciarra of Leavittsburg, who was indicted Aug. 20, 2015, on charges of promoting prostitution, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity at the 76 Spa in the same location. A previous business at the same location, also called 76 Spa, closed after a police raid.
Police also have targeted the area around Interstate 80 and state Route 46 for prostitution stings. Police have charged at least six women with soliciting since November.