A former San Diego police vice detective and three other people have been indicted on charges they advertised and sold sex out of five massage businesses they operated in California and Arizona, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Peter Griffin, the 78-year-old former police officer, and three co-defendants were indicted on racketeering conspiracy charges, as well as charges of money laundering, wire fraud conspiracy and making false statements to a mortgage lender, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The indictment, which prosecutors said was partially unsealed, remained publicly unavailable Friday evening.
The defendants allegedly advertised sex services online and employed “multiple women” to perform those services in their businesses “under the guise of offering therapeutic massage services,” according to a news release. Further information about the allegations, including the locations of the businesses, was not released.
Prosecutors said authorities arrested Griffin early Thursday morning as he left his San Diego home, and that he appeared Friday in San Diego federal court, as did two co-defendants who were also arrested Thursday. A fourth defendant remained at large.
Information about whether the defendants had attorneys was not available Friday.
Prosecutors said Griffin was also a former attorney who, while working on the San Diego Police Department’s vice operations unit, was “tasked with dismantling the businesses he now stands charged with operating and promoting.”
Lt. Adam Sharki, a San Diego police spokesperson, wrote in an email Friday that “SDPD separated employment with Mr. Griffin nearly two decades ago.” Sharki did not provide further details about Griffin’s time as a San Diego officer, but said San Diego police assisted in the investigation as a member agency on the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force.
“We want to thank our allied agencies for partnering with us in bringing the investigation to this conclusion,” Sharki wrote.
According to prosecutors, Griffin owned and operated the five massage parlors along with Kyung Sook Hernandez, 58, Yu Hong Tan, 56, and the unnamed fourth defendant. The indictment alleges the criminal activity began in 2013 and continued up until this month.
Prosecutors said federal investigators from the Department of Homeland Security led the probe, along with IRS investigators and the task force.