A new ordinance targets fake massage businesses
MANATEE COUNTY - Some claim to operate as a massage business, but Manatee County says it’s a possible front for much more.
In a statement released by Manatee County Government Attorney Mitchell Palmer, he says Manatee County Commissioners unanimously expressed interested Tuesday in a draft ordinance regarding the practice of massage therapy.
“The proposed ordinance will allow inspection of such establishments by code enforcement officers and sheriff’s deputies. The ordinance may also prohibit the placement of beds within the premises of massage establishments," says Palmer.
He says failure to comply with the Florida Massage Practice Act can result in a citations and a fine.
Electric Bike Depot owner Ernie Massengale shares business space with a massage parlor and says he understands the County’s concern.
“I’ve seen stuff. Something should be done, sure," says Massengale.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Randy Warren says deputies have dealt with similar practices in the past.
“Over a period of time we’ve done some investigations and we’ve found there was prostitution, there was drug activity, there was even some money laundering going on," says Warren.
Warren says keeping these massage businesses legitimate is the driving force behind finalizing the new ordinance.
“They will be regulated, as they should. If they’re truly massage parlors, then they have nothing to worry about," says Warren.