October 28, 2016

Former Harmony Spa property ‘subject to forfeiture’

July 18th, 2013

Observer staff report 

The former Harmony Spa property at 5649 Williston Road is “subject to forfeiture” by the federal government, according to documents filed with the Williston town clerk’s office on July 1.

Williston Police Chief Todd Shepard told the Observer on Wednesday that an agent from Homeland Security met with him on June 24 to gather more information about the business after the property’s owner, Thomas L. Booska, was cited on charges of “prohibited acts” in mid-June. Shepard said paperwork was subsequently filed “to seize the property.”

The Notice of Verified Complaint of Forfeiture was submitted to U.S. District Court in Vermont by U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin and Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Ross.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan drafted a letter to Booska in early June indicating that the building was being used for prostitution. Shepard met with Booska on June 11 and presented him with the letter, which police noted was not the first time he had been notified that the premises was being used for this type of activity. Records indicate that problems at the spa date back to at least 2004, when the business was known as Ginza Health Spa.

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. Employees at the spa were reportedly also living in the building, which is a violation of local zoning ordinances. The employees were offered “available victim services,” as officials determined that they were “likely victims of a larger scale criminal issue,” according to police.

Shepard said he has no other information at this point, other than that Booska was arraigned in court. A message left for Homeland Security seeking comment was not returned by press time.


  1. Mary Martin says:

    I would like to explain the charges of unlawful restraint because it sounds really awful. No we didn’t hold anyone hostage. We were simply standing in front of some VT Gas/Michel’s trucks. They were in no way restrained. When the men decided to leave, they simply backed up and took off. The police have been hired by VT Gas and they sure do have a way of turning a phrase.

    Mr. Recchia refers to this action as a “last-ditch” attempt to scuttle the pipeline. Wrong again! This was far from our last attempt to bring sanity and reason to our state officials who refuse to listen or help.

    Nate Palmer and Kari Cuneo and their families are not the only land owners who have fought this immoral taking of their land. So many folks have lost that fight for lack of time and money. It’s quite intimidating to go before the Public Service Board and their team of lawyers, to sit down at a table filled with VT Gas attorneys and not have anyone to watch your back and advise you.

    When people are up against the wall, they fight back any way they can. Peaceful protests not only express our frustration but they help bring attention to what is happening to our friends and neighbors..

    So Mr. Recchia, we are not done!

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