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Massage parlor owner admits guilt in prostitution case

The operator of a Bowling Green massage parlor pleaded guilty Wednesday in a case involving illegal sex acts in the business.

Huadi Chen, 46, pleaded guilty in Warren Circuit Court to charges of tampering with physical evidence and promoting prostitution (two or more prostitutes).

Chen was one of six people indicted in 2019 following an investigation by the Bowling Green Police Department into reports of sex work in at least three massage parlors in the city.

Chen’s attorney, Peter Gray-Whiteley, said during Wednesday’s hearing that actions that amounted to sex acts occurred in the parlor Chen operated, and that she attempted to hide documentation that law enforcement sought during its investigation.

Speaking through a Mandarin Chinese interpreter, Chen answered “yes” or “no” to various questions from Warren Circuit Judge Steve Wilson about going forward with pleading guilty.

In exchange for Chen’s guilty plea, prosecutors will recommend she be placed on probation for five years and dismiss charges of engaging in organized crime and practicing massage therapy without a license.

The BGPD’s investigation began in July 2019 and focused on allegations of illegal activity at Blue Sky Massage on Dishman Lane, which Chen owned, Lavender Massage on Russellville Road and Jasmine Spa on River Street.

According to court records and prior court testimony, city police began investigating Lavender Massage after receiving a referral from social services regarding suspicious behavior from the parlor’s owner, Li Jionggang, at a local bank.

In a preliminary hearing held in 2019 in Warren District Court, BGPD Detective Ryan Dillon testified that police received information that Jionggang frequently walked into the bank accompanied by different women, did not allow them to control their own money and acted belligerently toward them and bank staff.

Detectives surveilled Lavender Massage for a day in July 2019 and observed only male customers entering and leaving the business.

Police stopped a patron who had left the business and who had reported receiving a massage there, and then went inside and spoke with Jionggang and two employees with the help of an interpreter.

The employees, Lu Caiyuan and Lu Yuanying, were cited for practicing massage therapy without a license.

Detectives later received tips from city code enforcement officials about alleged illegal activity at Lavender Massage and Blue Sky Massage, and further investigation led to the discovery of 17 advertisements on websites promoting commercial sex that listed Lavender Massage’s address and phone number and 39 ads mentioning Blu Sky Massage, according to prior court testimony.

“Detectives have since located at least one individual who confirmed he received a sex act inside Lavender Massage that he paid for,” Dillon said in a July 2019 preliminary hearing.

Jionggang said he paid for the advertisements that appeared on the online sex forums but he did not know who placed them on the site, court records show.

At Blue Sky Massage, police executing a search warrant used an alternative light source to find evidence of bodily fluids on the beds, floors, light switches and walls, court records show.

“We believe that the male clientele that we saw coming and going in the business that day received massages as well as other stuff on very dirty, unsanitary sheets,” Dillon said at the 2019 hearing.

Speaking with police, Chen initially denied any illegal activity, but later mentioned to police that “she can’t help it if men uncontrollably masturbate,” Dillon testified.

Caiyuan and Yuanying pleaded guilty last year in Warren Circuit Court to misdemeanor charges of prostitution and received a conditionally discharged sentence of two years.

Jionggang pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of prostitution and received the same sentence as Caiyuan and Yuanying.

Chen is the only one of the co-defendants to have pleaded guilty to a felony. Had she been convicted on all counts charged against her, Chen faced up to 25 years in prison.

Two other people, Wei Dong Ping and Qun Yang, are under indictment on charges of engaging in organized crime, prostitution and practicing massage therapy without a license.

Court records indicate they both have pretrial conferences set for July 12.

A vinyl record by The Verve plays on a turntable, Thursday, May 27, 2021, in Falmouth, Maine. The COVID-19 pandemic benefitted record store owners who saw a surge in sales. That’s good news for the indie record stores ahead of Record Store Day on Saturday, June 12.

Two brothers arrested in connection with BG homicide
  • Updated

A Bowling Green man and his brother have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a deadly shooting last week.

Eder Pineda, 30, of Bowling Green, is charged with murder in connection with the death of Gregorio Alberto Jimenez, 27, who was found lying in a yard Thursday night in the 700 block of Glen Lily Road.

Pineda’s brother, Jayro Pastor Pineda, 37, of Bowling Green, was arrested on a charge of tampering with physical evidence.

An arrest warrant filed in the case alleged that Eder Pineda shot Jimenez multiple times around 8:15 p.m. June 3 in the yard of an address in the 700 block of Glen Lily Road.

Eder Pineda was arraigned Wednesday in Warren District Court and a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.

He is due to return to court June 16 for a preliminary hearing.

City police who responded to a check welfare call shortly after 10 p.m. June 3 located Jimenez’s body. He had suffered multiple apparent gunshot wounds.

A witness gave detectives a statement leading police to believe traffic was interrupted for a short time between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thursday in the 700 block of Glen Lily Road.

Detectives gathered enough information to believe that a black SUV was involved in the shooting, according to BGPD.

According to a video posted on the agency’s Facebook page, BGPD Officer Susana Aguilar recognized Jimenez from responding to a prior call on Collegeview Drive.

Detectives located a black SUV in a driveway of a Collegeview Drive address and identified Eder Pineda as a suspect in the shooting through interviews of residents there, according to the video from BGPD.

Police gathered enough evidence to obtain a warrant for Eder Pineda’s arrest, but he was not located immediately.

During the investigation, police gathered information leading them to believe Eder Pineda’s brother, Jayro Pineda, had hidden the gun used in the shooting.

Jayro Pineda was arrested Monday on the tampering charge, while Eder Pineda turned himself in to a Tompkinsville Police Department officer as law enforcement from multiple agencies were searching for him in Monroe County.

Eder Pineda was booked into Warren County Regional Jail early Tuesday on a murder charge. He was arraigned in Warren District Court and remains jailed under a $500,000 cash bond.

Runner, 78, inspires others as he completes 3,000-mile trip

Stan Cottrell’s legs are taking him across America. At 78, he is running a marathon each day for 100 days to travel from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.

Cottrell, a Munfordville native who graduated from Western Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in health, biology, psychology and sociology, will have run more than 3,000 miles once his Amazing Friendship Run concludes in August. Having already trekked through the desert heat of California, Arizona and New Mexico, Cottrell will pass the mountains of Colorado before moving on to the Midwest.

A coast-to-coast run through the United States is nothing new for Cottrell. In 1980, he set a Guinness World Record for the fastest run across America when he finished the feat in 48 days.

“I’ve been running for 73 years,” Cottrell said. “When I was a student at Western in 1964, I was one of the first Southerners to run the Boston Marathon. I was running long distances back in those days, and as the old saying goes, people thought I was touched in the head.”

Cottrell said he doesn’t like to label himself as “old.”

“I feel like I’m about 8 years old,” Cottrell said. “I’m still in elementary school and the teacher just said it’s time for recess.”

Cottrell believes his journey has a purpose that extends beyond the benefits of long-distance running.

“This is about reuniting America,” Cottrell said. “This is about sending a message of hope that encourages you to come out of your house and move around outside.”

Cottrell has shared his message of friendship and unity in the 40 countries he’s visited. After nearly 270,000 miles of running, Cottrell sees value in being able to live and work with a diverse group of people.

“The people that come out and run with me —they know it’s not a competition,” Cottrell said. “We’re just celebrating the uniqueness of the human family and the fact that friendship is the rarest commodity. It’s far more rare than the gold of Fort Knox.”

Completing a 3,000-mile run in 100 days is a difficult task, so Cottrell brought along multiple medical experts. His friends Ken Rolfsness and Janice Wade are monitoring Cottrell’s amniotic shot regimen. The amniotic fluid from each injection stops inflammation, Wade said. Rolfsness and Wade feel like Cottrell is running in the body of a 35-year-old.

“He’s running fast, he’s strong and even his skin looks great,” Rolfsness said.

Rolfsness was amazed by Cottrell’s ability to withstand the brutal temperatures in Arizona. While members of Cottrell’s traveling party saw their shoes melt in the hot sun, Cottrell managed to finish his 30-mile run. On another day of running, Cottrell was attacked by a dog while trekking a mountain pass. Cottrell dodged the canine, but he injured his groin in the process. He continued his daily marathon after treating the injury.

Rolfsness said, “He’s always asked, ‘How do you do it when you reach the end and can’t go no more?’ He says, ‘Five more minutes. That’s all I need – five more minutes.’ ”

While performing his summer run, Cottrell is raising funds for several charities, including WLOC Clothes for Kids Inc., which supplies underserved children in southcentral Kentucky with the clothes they need for every season.

“I was one of those children who lived without a coat and without shoes,” Cottrell said. “I’d like to think I’m doing something that will keep a child from crying and shivering in bed because of the cold.”

When Cottrell steps out of his RV for a run, he ties a Salvation Army flag around his neck. The flag once belonged to astronaut James Irwin, who had taken the item with him to the moon. For Cottrell, the flag reminds him of the importance of being a person who wholeheartedly helps people succeed in what they strive to do.

“You have a spark of greatness within you,” Cottrell said. “You have something you can do that nobody else can do. All I am trying to do is encourage you to discover what you do well.”

Castlen Steel opens Nashville Road shop

What started as a token investment in the Bowling Green market has turned into a fast-growing project for Owensboro-based Castlen Steel.

The 15-year-old company, started out of the garage of founders Matt and Laura Castlen, observed Wednesday its third expansion announcement in Warren County.

Castlen is leasing 10,000 square feet of warehouse space from Continental Machinery Movers at 5884 Nashville Road and has set up a sales division now employing 10 people.

That sales division will complement the metal fabrication work being done at the original Castlen plant in Owensboro and at the Smiths Grove facility that opened in 2016 and was expanded in 2019.

“The vision that Matt and I had, we’re glad to see it come to fruition,” said Mike Miller, the Castlen vice president who opened the Smiths Grove plant. “We saw a need in Bowling Green for selling steel to the farmer down the road and to major industries.”

A customer base that includes Sister Schubert’s Bakery, Smucker’s, Owl’s Head Alloys and Bowling Green Metalforming has grown to the point that Castlen’s founder saw a need to grow beyond the 9,000 square feet he added to the Smiths Grove plant in 2019.

“We thought it was important to have a stand-alone sales facility,” said Matt Castlen, who represents the Owensboro area in the Kentucky State Senate. “We’re doing business with a lot of different plants and wanted to be closer to them.”

The new Castlen sales facility is close to the South Central Kentucky Industrial Park, but Castlen said his customer base isn’t limited to the manufacturers that occupy that park.

“We’re doing business with farms and with industrial and commercial customers,” said Castlen, 34. “We offer structural steel, aluminum, plate steel, stainless steel and rebar.”

Castlen, whose company has grown to 125 employees between the Owensboro and Warren County locations, said he has room for more growth at the Nashville Road facility. He looks to expand along with Bowling Green’s industrial base.

“What a great town to expand in,” said Castlen, speaking at a Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting. “Bowling Green has a lot of different industries coming in. We’re glad to be a part of that.”