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.

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.