Las Vegas revoked a massage parlor's business license Wednesday , but the City Council also might have left the decision open to a legal challenge.
The council voted unanimously to strip Oriental Angels Massage of its license because of five prostitution arrests in the past 2½ years, two of which have resulted in convictions so far. But council members were divided, 4-3, on imposing a $50,000 fine.
"I look at this, quite frankly, with disgust," said Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, whose ward includes the business at 2600 W. Sahara Ave. "It has been a thorn in the side of the neighborhood. This backs up to residential area."
The business owner, Jinli Ran, fought the city's complaint, arguing that she required all employees to sign a contract prohibiting illegal acts, nudity and sexual activity, and noting that she immediately fired all of the women who were arrested.
Her workers had to deposit $2,000 that they stood to lose by violating the contract, Ran said, although she told council members that she usually gave them their money back.
"I mostly give (it) to them because I just fired them," she said.
Ran, who is licensed as an acupuncturist, insisted she tried to run a clean business.
"We don't need that kind of service," she said of the actions of her arrested workers. "Just very professional Chinese massage.
"Oriental massage is a healing art. It makes you more healthy."
She is trying to sell the business, said her attorney, Conrad Claus, who asked the council to give her a temporary 45-day license so she could complete the deal.
Council members were unmoved.
"I feel like the owner or the manager is responsible," Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese said. "It's happened not just once. It's happened a number of times."
But the council split on whether the incidents represent a pattern, and that could trip them up legally.
To get to the $50,000 figure, the council had to conclude that there was ongoing illegal activity over a period of time for which they could impose fines of up to $1,000 a day.
Absent that, City Attorney Brad Jerbic said, the council could fine up to $1,000 daily for each of the five arrests, which was his recommendation.
Mayor Oscar Goodman and Councilmen Steve Wolfson and Ricki Barlow voted against the fine, saying a pattern had not been established.
The council was supposed to stick to incidents in the complaint prepared by the city attorney, which starts with an arrest for prostitution on Jan. 8, 2008.
But Tarkanian kept referring to incidents she said started in 2006 despite instructions from Jerbic to leave those out of the discussion.
Claus said he "absolutely" intends to appeal the council's action to District Court.
Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@ reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.