OMAHA – United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced that Tabatha N. Ashburn was sentenced on Monday, January 6, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp to a term of probation for five years—12 months of which must be served under the location monitoring program.
Ms. Ashburn pled guilty on October 7, 2013, to one count of conspiracy to use facilities in interstate commerce in aid of a racketeering enterprise, that is, a business enterprise involving prostitution, and to induce travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in prostitution.
Starting in approximately April 2008 and continuing to in or about January 2012, the defendant assisted in operating three “spas” in Omaha, Nebraska. The spas had different names over time, but were frequently referred to as the 93rd Street Spa, the 72nd Street Spa, and the It Works Spa (collectively, the “spas”). Defendant entered an arrangement to purchase one of the spas as an ongoing business and make payments over time. Defendant never ultimately completed the purchase of that spa location.
Each of the spas was, in fact, a front for prostitution. The majority of customers received sex acts from workers, rather than legitimate spa services, in exchange for money. Defendant had “sessions” with customers during which she provided sex acts in exchange for money. Some customers traveled to the spas from Iowa and from other states to obtain sex acts for money.
Customers paid a fee that varied by the length of the “session.” That fee was kept by the spas. Customers separately negotiated a “tip” with the worker, which the worker kept. During certain periods of time, workers at the spas were required to pay a daily fee to the spas for “booth rental.” During certain periods of time, the defendant herself worked at the front desk, answering the phones, taking appointments and collecting money. During other periods of time, the defendant oversaw and managed workers who handled these duties at the front desk.
The defendant placed advertisements for the spas on the Internet. The spas also maintained a website accessible over the Internet. The website advertised available services and contact information, and included a “Members Only” section. Established customers of the spas were given a user name and password by which they could access the “Members Only” section. Members accessing this section could read about the female workers providing services and view provocative pictures of them.
Customers arranged appointments for “sessions” using cellular telephones and other facilities in interstate commerce. The website also allowed customers to communicate with the spas by e-mail and to set up appointments online.
The defendant also helped maintain a computerized record keeping and management system, entitled “Spa Manager.” The Spa Manager system generated text messages to workers’ cell phones to notify them of appointments for which they had been scheduled. The Spa Manager system also tracked various data related to the spas’ operation.
During the time when the defendant assisted in managing the Spas, there were an overall total of more than 20 workers providing commercial sex acts.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Omaha Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service, under the auspices of the Child Exploitation Task Force, which also includes the Council Bluffs Police Department, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the La Vista Police Department, the Mills County Sheriff’s Office, and the Nebraska State Patrol.