St. Charles officials are leaning toward closing the Shangri-La Spa & Sauna for a second time this year after a prostitution sting, but the business owners will have a last shot to convince the mayor the establishment should remain open.
The controversy began in January when Illinois State Police arrested and charged a spa employee with prostitution during an undercover sting. St. Charles police also cited the business for seven violations of city ordinances.
Mayor Ray Rogina revoked the spa's business licenses based on the evidence presented by police at an initial hearing. But the business owners appealed Rogina's ruling in court, and a judge sent the case back to the city's liquor commission for a more in-depth review.
That review came in November. An attorney for the spa argued the prostitution charge was the result of a rogue employee acting on her own. The local ordinance violations stemmed from a language barrier fueling miscommunication with police during questioning, the attorney said.
Also, an interpreter at the second city hearing communicated testimony that suggested a manager was working at the business the entire time of the police sting. Officers did not see the manager because she was watching a table tennis tournament in an adjacent building.
Rogina said this week he doesn't believe that version of events. He entered a finding that "there was a preponderance of the evidence" that seven violations of city ordinances did occur. His decision sets the stage for the city to proceed with revoking the spa's license.
Spa attorneys have until Dec. 18 to change Rogina's mind. They can present new documents to prove their version of events. Or, the spa owners can request another appearance before the city's liquor commission to provide evidence or present facts that might result in a lesser punishment, such as a fine.
The spa at 2015 Dean St. remains open for business.