A woman in Washington has been charged with allegedly running a multimillion dollar prostitution ring and money laundering service out of her bikini coffee stand franchises.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Washington's odd staple craft, the bikini coffee stand is exactly what it sounds like: a coffee stand where the baristas don bikinis or are in general scantily clad. 52-year-old Carmela Panico, proprietor of such stands like Java Juggs (opened in 2008) and Twin Peaks (gotta give her credit for that one), decided to capitalize on this business. According to documents obtained by Vocativ, Panico has been accused of using her businesses as drive-through cathouses, offering clients espressos, lattes, pole dancing, breast-fondling, hot chocolates, and other sex acts that clients could pay extra for. In just three years, Panico was able to collect more than $2 million dollars from her business.
Shane Kavanaugh writes:
One barista even told investigators that she earned more than a half-million dollars turning tricks at Panico's bikini coffee stands. In charging papers, Snohomish County authorities were blunt. "Panico's businesses were driven by prostitution and lewd behavior," deputy prosecutor Bob Hendrix wrote.
According to court documents, Panico allegedly preferred to hire baristas who were former dancers or escorts. They were required to pay her a certain amount of money during each shift they worked and could then pocket whatever cash was left over. Baristas were allegedly fined if they did not wear high heels, have a tan, or wear makeup. Wearing boots in the winter was a big no-no as well, according to court documents.
The thought of wearing anything but boots in a Washington winter is awful enough. (I was a barista in a regular coffeeshop in British Columbia, and I wore boots eight months of the year.) Having said that, all of this is pretty fucking awful.
Panico herself is a former exotic dancer, and police say she may be connected to the Colacurcio crime family, notorious for their expansive network of strip clubs (which faced their own prostitution scandals) among other things. She is due in Snohomish County Superior Court next week. She claims to no longer be in the coffee business.
Image via Shutterstock.