Did Cops Target Journalist's Wife's Spa with Prostitution Raid as Payback?

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It's hard to tell where the truth ends and spin begins with this one, but here we go: An Albany police unit raided a spa owned by the wife of The Albany Times Union's investigative editor for alleged prostitution--a move that might be retribution for his coverage of the police unit's shady purchases. This story has a lot of tabloidy elements like the strip-searching of a 53-year-old Chinese immigrant, baby oil, esthetician licenses, and police protocol when it comes to disrobing. 

Whew, catch all of that? OK, let's go back to the start. You see, in 2011 Robert Port, the Times Union's senior editor oversaw stories that examined at the sheriff's drug unit, in particular, their "use of criminal-seizure assets to purchase expensive take-home vehicles," according to the Times-Union's Brendan J. Lyons. (You can find one of the stories, also by Lyons, here). Fast-forward to March 15, when members of that drug unit raided Port's wife's spa business for alleged prostitution and strip-searched a 53-year old Chinese immigrant. 

"This is a carefully planned plot to retaliate against me and my newspaper and my reporters for many stories we have done in recent years about the Albany police and the sheriff’s office drug enforcement unit," Port told The New York Times' Danny Hakim and Nick Confessore. And it sounds like Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff is on his side, since Krokoff was quoted in the Times Union as saying that Port and his wife "haven't been implicated in any criminality whatsoever" and saying that instances like the undercover cop fully disrobing to get his masseuse to offer to use baby oil on his gentials, the amount of money and resources spent on trying to bust the spa, were very unusual for a unit whose focus is tackling violent crimes.  

But (and of course there's a but), Krokoff still seems to be defending the actions and the arrest. "The Albany Police Department doesn’t get involved in conspiracies," he told The Times' Hakim and Confessore. "The last thing I have is any ax to grind with The Times Union." An internal investigation into the raid is ongoing. 

Photo by: carl ballou via Shutterstock


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.