He once claimed to operate the "cleanest massage parlor in California," but on Friday college professor Hal Mintz was charged with conspiracy to maintain a house of prostitution and two counts of state income tax evasion.
Mintz, chairman of the business department at East Los Angeles College, is scheduled to be arraigned May 5 in Beverly Hills Municipal Court, Deputy Dist. Atty. Eldon Fox said. If convicted of all three felony charges, he could face up to nine years in prison and fines of $50,000.
The educator's massage parlor at 8574 Santa Monica Blvd., across the street from West Hollywood City Hall, was forced to close in February after authorities said it was being used as a house of prostitution.
Fox said the evidence against Mintz "will clearly establish that prostitution activities which occurred at the massage parlor were condoned with the knowledge of Mr. Mintz."
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Community College District, which has been embarrassed by the revelations concerning Mintz since his problems with the massage parlor became public last year, said the district "will continue to evaluate his position relative to the college."
"Under the terms of the (state) Education Code, the particular charge against (Mintz) does not enable us to automatically suspend him," said Warren Kinsler, the district's general counsel. "Obviously, we would have hoped for a different result."
According to the Sheriff's Department, at least 10 women had been arrested for sex-related offenses there since 1984.
Four former masseuses and two former managers of the massage parlor have agreed to testify against Mintz in return for immunity from prosecution, the prosecutor said.
The other charges accuse Mintz of failing to file a return with the state Franchise Tax Board for 1985 and 1986. Financial records seized at the professor's home in San Marino indicate that Mintz earned at least $200,000 each of those years, Fox said.
The Internal Revenue Service is conducting its own investigation of Mintz, Fox added.
An attorney for Mintz said his client will plead not guilty to the conspiracy charge.
"Hal may have been lax, he may have been negligent in some things, but he didn't know what was going on (at the massage parlor)," attorney Anthony Glassman said.
Glassman said that while his client had not filed state tax returns for either year as accused, "he fully intended to do so and was in the process of having his accountant prepare the paper work" in January when deputies armed with search warrants conducted raids at the professor's home and the massage parlor.
Sheriff's investigators said records seized at the home revealed that Mintz's business, 20th Century Travel Advisors Inc., which operated as the Beverly Hills Massage Parlor, grossed $200,000 from credit card transactions alone in 1986.
"The credit card stuff was just the tip of the iceberg," said Lt. Joe Callanan of the Sheriff's Department vice bureau. "He had a gold mine going over there."