Former Vice Detective Sentenced to Prison for Operating Illicit Massage Businesses

The Sentencing of Peter Griffin and Co-Defendants

Former San Diego police officer and vice detective Peter Griffin, aged 79, has been sentenced to 33 months in prison and one year of supervised release.

Griffin, who is also an attorney and private investigator, was sentenced for his involvement in the operation of multiple illicit massage businesses across California and Arizona.

These businesses had been profiting for years by disguising themselves as providers of therapeutic massage services while actually engaging in commercial sex.

Sentences for Co-Defendants

Three female co-defendants in this case, Kyung Sook Hernandez, Yu Hong Tan, and Yoo Jin Ott, each received sentences of six months in prison and one year of supervised release.

These individuals managed various illicit massage businesses within Griffin’s network.

Operation of Illicit Massage Businesses

Peter Griffin, along with his co-deffendants, owned and operated several massage businesses, including “Genie Oriental Spa,” “Felicita Spa,” “Blue Green Spa,” “Maple Spa,” and “Massage W Spa.

” These businesses operated in both the greater San Diego area and in Tempe, Arizona, spanning from 2013 to August 2022.

Their criminal scheme included fraudulent incorporation of these businesses with state agencies, management of the illegal proceeds, online advertising of commercial sexual services, recruitment and employment of women for such services, and financial profiteering from these illegal operations.

Strong Response from Justice Department

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division expressed the importance of holding Griffin accountable, highlighting his abuse of authority and exploitation of women for commercial sex.

She also emphasized the effectiveness of partnerships among law enforcement agencies in combating the illicit massage industry.

Former Detective’s Abuse of Authority

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division highlighted that Peter Griffin utilized his background as a former vice detective and law enforcement officer to operate an extensive network of illicit massage businesses.

This allowed him to evade law enforcement and conduct his criminal activities over nearly a decade.

Prosecution’s Commitment to Protect Communities

U.S. Attorney Tara K. McGrath for the Southern District of California emphasized the commitment of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute offenses related to illicit massage businesses.

Griffin’s criminal activities had a significant impact on the exploited women and local communities.

Multiagency Investigation

The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Los Angeles Field Office, and the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force.

Additionally, support was provided by the FBI San Diego Field Office, the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office, the Escondido Police Department, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, and the Tempe, Arizona Police Department.

Exploitation of Vulnerable Women

The criminal scheme involved the exploitation of vulnerable women primarily from Korea and China. The defendants pressured these women into providing commercial sex services, generating substantial financial profits.

In one instance, an employee who initially refused to provide such services was instructed to “leave [her] morals in China” to satisfy customers.

Abuse of Position and Resources

Peter Griffin, who left the police department in 2002, had previously worked as a detective in the Vice Operations Unit of the San Diego Police Department.

This unit was responsible for addressing the very businesses he operated for personal gain.

Griffin utilized his experience and skills gained as a vice detective, an attorney, and a private investigator to help these businesses evade law enforcement, maintain a façade of legitimacy, and obstruct regulatory inspections and investigations.

False Assurance to Local Authorities

Griffin repeatedly used his status as a former law enforcement officer to falsely assure local authorities that his businesses were operating legitimately. He even flashed his badge to a local officer during a citizen complaint response.

His co-defendants also emphasized Griffin’s law enforcement background and connections to employees, promising to protect the illegal businesses from detection.

Collaborative Efforts to Combat Exploitation

The case exemplifies a commitment to prosecuting those engaged in illicit businesses that exploit and victimize members of the community.

Strong collaboration among law enforcement agencies and special agents contributed to exposing and bringing the offenders to justice.

Human Trafficking Reporting

The announcement concludes with a reminder to report information about human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which operates 24/7 at 1-888-373-7888. Additionally, resources and information related to human trafficking can be found at www.humantraffickinghotline.org.

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