I've never been to Seattle, and I have an admittedly limited view of what the city is known for. I know from Starbucks that it is the coffee capital of the United States. I also know from AMC's The Killing, that there may be way too many young prostitutes getting killed there. To recap, before reading this article, Seattle equalled coffee, prostitution, and criminal investigations.
Turns out, that strange trifecta came together in perfect harmony to create Java Jugs and Twin Peaks (shame on them for tarnishing one of my favorite television shows), two Washington-based coffee shops that were raided on suspicion of selling more perks than just espresso beans.
According to NPR and the Seattle Times, baristas in seven shops across the state were pulling in a ton of moola, with one woman reporting $100,000 in tips last year. The girls were young (one manager is reported at 22 years old), and some were noted exotic dancers. Like a Hooters for coffee, all the girls served their caffeine- and sex-deprived customers in scantily clad clothing. Unlike Hooters, some customers were paying $20 for a cup of joe and a little alone time. Surveillance taken from three months of undercover footage reveals menus for sexual favors, with services on a sliding scale from flashing their breasts to sexual acts.
But the story doesn't end there. The Seattle Police Department has released information indicating that one of their own was aiding the prostitution ring. Snohomish County Sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell O’Neill, 58, who served nearly 30 years on the police force, was found to be tipping the shops off. Often on duty and in uniform, the sargeant would notify when police surveillance was low so the seven stands could perform their services. O'Neill also frequented the stand, and one barista says that "there was an unwritten rule on how the women should treat him," with another claiming to have seen O'Neill having sex during one of his visits.
"In this profession, public trust is extremely important," said Chief Deputy Dan Templeman. "When we learn of information that one of our own may have breached that public trust, it's very disappointing."
The investigation is still ongoing and "far from over." Carmela Panico, the 51-year-old co-owner of the coffee shops, was found to have ties with Talents West, a management agency that was used by Seattle racketeer Frank Colacurcio Sr. Known for his prostitution and money-laundering empire, Colacurcio was arrested several years ago and died while in custody at the age of 93.