POSTED: 5:14 a.m. HST, May 15, 2012
LAS VEGAS >> A 25-year-old British tourist was hospitalized with serious stab wounds after a dispute at a Las Vegas business that police say was marketed as a reflexology spa but operated as a prostitution scam.
Sex acts were hinted at, but not performed, at the Red Devil Fitness and Spa while business operators induced patrons to part with hundreds of dollars, Las Vegas police Officer Marcus Martin said Monday.
Joseph Sherriff arrived at the Red Door in an unknown taxi seeking sex early Sunday morning, according to arrest reports. He was stabbed multiple times by a security guard after he got agitated and threw a water bottle at one of the women employees.
Five women and a man were arrested on charges including racketeering, fraud and conspiracy after the attack. The security guard believed to have stabbed Sherriff had not been arrested as of late Monday and his name had not been released.
Among those arrested were Brooke Dugan, 21; Nicole Cramer, 34; Lyeishia Godfrey, 20; Hope Tello, 23; and James Watkins, 41. Police say the women were all dressed in provocative clothes to trick men into believing they were prostitutes, while Watkins acted as a security guard to protect the female employees. The fifth female suspect was not named.
Sherriff was taken to University Medical Center in Las Vegas with stomach and head wounds. He was not cooperating with investigators, Martin said.
Martin said investigators believe taxi drivers helped funnel customers to the business in an industrial area several blocks west of the Las Vegas Strip. He characterized the near-fatal dispute as an argument over an implied promise of sex for money.
"The guy argued when it became clear it was a scam, that nothing was going to happen," Martin said.
Prostitution is legal in some rural Nevada counties, but not in the state's two largest casino cities, Las Vegas and Reno.
Tourists impaired by alcohol or drugs are popular victims at the fake prostitution businesses, according to the arrest reports. The fee generally starts at $200 per person. No refunds are allowed.
"These people get a patron to sign an agreement acknowledging they know prostitution is illegal," Martin said. "Then they continue to lure them into paying more and larger amounts of money."