EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass (WGGB) — Officials in East Longmeadow met tonight to award massage therapy licenses.
The town began requiring a special permit for therapists last year after police raided the Korean Massage three times in 2009 and 2011. Sex charges following those raids were eventually dismissed in court, however one woman was deported to Korea after being found guilty of doing massages without a license. The Korean Massage was also fined three times for code violations, all leading up to a fiery meeting Tuesday night.
Just about every massage therapist in East Longmeadow had to go before the planning board Tuesday, but it was the Korean Massage that drew controversy.
“Did she say that she is a member of the Massachusetts chapter and that she purchases liability insurance?,” asked one person in the audience.
“I’m not quite sure why, if she does not have a town business permit, how is she able to work?,” asked another massage therapist.
The town says Korean Massage does lack a business permit, and the planning board told Korean Massage Attorney Robert Ward they had other concerns too. The applicant, Gye Hwa Shin has no Massachusetts identification because her residence is in Michigan, plus her business only has a state license for one therapist. Two are listed on the application.
“One is a therapist, and the other one is an Asian body worker,” Ward explained.
“What’s the difference between the two?,” questioned a Planning Board member.
“I don’t know,” Ward replied after a pause.
“She’s a resident of Michigan and she works here?,” asked a Planning Board member.
“Yes, it’s like President Obama is a resident of Hawaii, I believe but lives in the White House,” Ward replied.
The board voted to continue the hearing until next month. Other therapists say it’s clear that Korean Massage doesn’t deserve to operate.
“The whole thing is ludicrous and it’s frankly an insult to my profession,” Vivian Bresnitz, owner of Well-Being Therapeutic, said.
Ward declined to comment on camera, and he briefly spoke to frustrated therapists in the hallway.
“You ask one question she says ‘yes or no,’ you find it believable,” Bresnitz said. “She says ‘yes or no’ to something else when it’s not convenient for your case, then she doesn’t speak English.”
“That’s not true,” Ward said as he walked out the door.
“We’re all being punished, we have to jump through the hoops because of a business that is known to be illegal,” Bresnitz said. “It has been known to do work that is not massage therapy-that’s for sure.”
The town also requested that Attorney Ward provide some sort of electrical, phone, or heating bill with the applicants names on it to verify their address in Springfield.
A third person originally listed on the Korean Massage application has decided not to move to the area, according to Attorney Ward.
The State Division of Professional Licensure says they are still investigating the Korean Massage. Both sides agreed that an attorney for the Town of East Longmeadow should be present at the next meeting, when the Planning Board hopes to learn more about residency requirements and Asian body work.