EVERETT, Wash. - The controversial owner of seven bikini barista stands from Kent to Everett is now facing charges of prostitution and laundering millions of dollars in profits, after an extensive two-year investigation.
Even veteran detectives tell KIRO 7 they were stunned by the sex acts they saw baristas performing for cash—in addition to making coffee.
"I've never seen anything like that before in my life," said Lt. Jim Duffy of the Everett Police Department.
Duffy told KIRO 7 that 52-year-old Carmela Panico ran what he called lucrative “drive-through brothels” under the names Java Juggs and Twin Peaks.
On Thursday, she was charged in Snohomish County with prostitution and laundering millions of dollars in profits.
Detectives told KIRO 7 several of Panico's baristas earned in excess of $15,000 per month, all in cash.
"A number of them were making in excess of $100,000 a year, and one of them made around $500,000 dollars a year," Duffy said.
Detectives say very little—if any of that money came in the form of a paycheck. They say baristas earned everything from tips.
The first 300 a day was collected by Carmela Panico, according to Duffy, and the baristas kept all the cash left over from men who expected far more than coffee.
“We would see men that would pull up and they would be completely naked,” said Duffy. “They would order their coffee and--masturbate while their coffee was being made, and they were receiving their show."
Tax records indicate Panico earned $250,000 in 2010, $500,000 in 2011, and $1,500,000 in 2012.
Today, some of Panico’s former stands have signs indicating they're under new ownership. Duffy say what detectives saw Panico's employees doing for cash should be a thing of the past.
"How the guys showed up, the girls performing sex acts on each other, it was all a little shocking.”