October 23, 2014

Booska cited for ‘prohibited acts’ at Harmony Spa

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Notices on the doors indicate that the Harmony Spa is permanently closed. (Observer photo by Becka Gregory)

Notices on the doors indicate that the Harmony Spa is permanently closed. (Observer photo by Becka Gregory)

Police cited Thomas L. Booska, 68, of Burlington, the property owner of 5649 Williston Road in Williston—most recently known as Harmony Spa—for “prohibited acts”on June 13.

Vermont law prohibits the “owner of a place, building, structure, or conveyance to use the space for the purpose of prostitution,” according to police reports.

Following a June 5 story in Seven Days newspaper regarding local prostitution, Williston Police met with Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan, who drafted a letter to business owners and landlords of the establishments mentioned in the Seven Days article, to put them on notice of the activities in their buildings, including Booska.

During a meeting between Booska and Williston Police Chief Todd Shepard on June 11, Shepard delivered the letter drafted by Donovan. The letter served as written notice to Booska, even though he had been told on numerous accounts in past years that this type of activity was occurring, according to police.

On June 12, information was gathered from witnesses/clients leaving Harmony Spa that they had just “received sexual services from employees and provided payment to them,” according to police. Through a collaborative effort between the Williston Police, Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office, local advocacy groups and other criminal justice agencies, it was agreed that the employees providing the services were “likely victims of a larger scale criminal issue” and therefore are not being charged, but instead are being offered “available victim services.”

In the past month, the Williston Police Department has also reported zoning violations to the Williston Planning and Zoning Director concerning employees of Harmony Spa residing at the business. Booska noted in the meeting with Shepard that he had recently received this notice from the Zoning Department and was “actively searching for apartments for the spa’s employees,” according to police.

Booska was cited to appear in court.

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