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Updated: Wednesday, 09 Feb 2011, 11:33 AM EST
Published : Friday, 04 Feb 2011, 11:59 AM EST
PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) - A Pawtucket city councilman has been collecting rent from a business that was allegedly selling illicit sexual acts to its customers, a Target 12 Investigation has uncovered.
City Councilor-at-large Albert Vitali said he manages the property for 506 Armistice Blvd. in Pawtucket. The building is a strip of storefronts that include a vacancy, a barbershop and a business called "The Daily Spa."
Pawtucket Police Major Arthur Martins said they had received complaints about "suspicious" activity at the spa in the past, but said the department could do nothing about it because indoor prostitution was still legal in the state at the time.
Target 12 discovered the spa was featured on several graphic online websites listing different businesses where customers could allegedly receive sex acts for the right price. The "Daily Spa" was also featured in a web posting that depicted nude women and listed spas throughout Rhode Island.
Target 12 monitored the business for several days in October using undercover cameras. Each customer entered the building by pressing a buzzer and a person on the inside would open the door outward. For a business that advertised "body work, skin care and waxing," not a single woman entered the business while Target 12 kept watch.
Wearing hidden cameras and microphones, an Eyewitness News undercover producer entered the business. The producer was brought to a room in the rear of the building without being asked what he was there for. He was asked to disrobe and instructed to lie on his stomach on a table. A woman -- described by the producer to be in her early thirties and who spoke very little English -- massaged him for approximately 40 minutes, then asked him to turn over to lie on his back. She then propositioned him.
She grabbed his boxer shorts, in an attempt to remove them and asked, "Is ok?"
The producer asked "does that cost extra?"
The spa worker responded, "yeah."
When the producer asked how much the service cost, the worker made an obscene hand gesture pantomiming the sex act and held up four fingers. The producer declined the offer.
According to an alleged price sheet Target 12 discovered online, some sex acts cost $40, while intercourse cost $150.
Tax records at Pawtucket City Hall show the property housing the business is owned by "Armistice Holdings, LLC." Records at the Secretary of State's office show the president of the company is the mother of City Councilman Albert Vitali.
Posted in the window of one of the vacant stores in the property, is a sign with two phone numbers. Target 12 dialed both numbers. In both cases they rang directly to a man who identified himself as Albert Vitali.
A Target 12 producer called Councilman Albert Vitali to ask about the vacant storefront, when asked if he was the owner he said he was. Vitali said he would send one of his workers to the property so the undercover producer could tour the vacant store.
Again, wired with hidden cameras and microphones, the producer met with the worker and before entering the building asked who owned the building.
"Al Vitali," said the worker.
Asked if it was the same Albert Vitali who is the city councilman, the worker stated it was.
The Target 12 Investigators met up with Mr. Vitali at City Hall and questioned him about the property and the "Daily Spa:"
Target 12: "I want to talk to you about your property at 506 Armistice Blvd."
Vitali: "What's that?"
Target 12: "The storefront property there that's got the barber shop and the spa in it."
Target 12: "Are you familiar with that?"
Vitali: "It's owned by a corporation that my mother owns."
Target 12: "So you're saying you're not the owner?"
Vitali: "I'm not the owner."
Target 12: "One of you workers identified you as the owner and you told my producer on the phone you were the owner. Are you being dishonest about that?"
Vitali: "No. Absolutely not the owner."
Target 12: "We want to talk to you about that spa."
Vitali: "I manage the real estate for my mother but I, but that's as far as it goes. Maintenance, collecting rents, that sort of thing."
Target 12: "Your family is seemingly profiting from a business that's offering customers illicit acts."
Vitali: "That I don't know about. That I couldn't speak on."
Target 12: "Councilman don't you think that people would think you're being naive that you don't know what's going on in there?"
Vitali: "If something's going on in there let the proper authorities handle it."
Target 12: "You're a councilman in this city."
Target 12: "You want to move this city forward. How is that business moving this city forward?"
Vitali: "No comment."
Target 12: "You're not the proper authorities for this, taking care of this business?"
Vitali entered a meeting with fellow city councilors without further comment.
A little more than a week after Target 12 interviewed Councilman Vitali, we found the storefront housing the "Daily Spa" was empty. A business owner in the area, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the spa "disappeared" over a weekend. He said the business, which was in operation for about two years was "well known" in the area.
"You couldn't park anywhere near it," he said. "There were too many other cars with out-of-state-plates here."
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