Cops Charge Woman With Bikini Barista Prostitution Ring

A Washington woman has been charged with running a multi-million dollar prostitution ring from the "bikini barista" stands she owned and operated.

Carmela Panico, of Snohomish County, Wash., was charged with promoting prostitution and money laundering, police told ABC affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Police say they caught baristas at six bikini barista coffee stands owned by Panico across Snohomish County engaged in acts with customers that went beyond merely serving coffee.

According to court records obtained by KOMO-TV, Panico allegedly set a sales goal for the women working each coffee shift that was used as "effectively rent that the girls paid to have the opportunity to perform lewd conduct and acts of prostitution."

The young women made anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 a month, according to the documents. One girl allegedly made $89,000.

The baristas were fined if they did not wear high heels, have a tan, or wear makeup, according to the documents.

Panico's bank records, obtained by police, show that she deposited more than $2 million between 2010 and 2013.

Police say she kept two sets of accounting books. The first book was allegedly intended for the IRS and Washington State Department of Revenue and the second detailed her actual profit.

Detectives also allegedly confiscated $227,863 in cash from Panico's home, according to KOMO-TV.

A police investigation into Panico and her coffee businesses began when the department began to receive complaints about baristas showing their breasts to customers for tips.

According to The Associated Press, Panico's attorney told Snohomish County Superior Court that she left the coffee business and sold some of her stands and leased others.

Last summer, a sergeant at the Snohomish County Detective's Office was arrested for allegedly giving Panico information on undercover operations to gain evidence against her suspected prostitution ring, in exchange for sex.

The sergeant resigned after he was charged with promoting prostitution and official misconduct.

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