Phoenix Vice: Woman used massage business as front for house of prostitution

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Melissa Paulson (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Melissa Paulson (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

An undercover operation at what was supposed to be a “legitimate massage establishment” in Phoenix landed a woman in jail on suspicion of running a house of prostitution.

Police arrested Melissa Lea Paulson, 46, last Wednesday afternoon.

The investigation started with a tip to the Phoenix Police Department’s vice unit on May 1. 

A little more than two weeks later, undercover vice detectives went to the business operating in one of the suites at Greenway Crossing, 2625 E. Greenway Parkway. Investigators said Paulson was the only person working there at the time.

“Days of surveillance leading up to the operation only displayed lone male customers and the defendant opening and closing the business on multiple occasions,” according to the probable cause for arrest statement.

The statement goes on to say that an undercover detective paid $160 for a massage.

“The defendant asked the undercover if he was law enforcement and entered the massage room completely nude,” according to the court paperwork.

Vice ran a similar operation with similar results in July.

“The defendant discussed money in regards to sexual acts with the defendant stating she normally gives flat rates,” according to court documents.

A month after that, detectives talked to a man as he left the business.

“The witness explained that while attempting to get a massage, the defendant walked into the massage room completely nude, scaring him,” according to court documents. “He left immediately thereafter.”

Paulson was released on her own recognizance and is due back in court next week.

It’s not clear if she has a criminal history, but the court paperwork indicates that she might have mental health issues.

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