February 17, 2015

Proprieter of ‘Sowet’ Website Indicted for Promoting Massage Parlors That Offered Sexual Services

DENVER—David A. Warmack, of Adams County, Colorado, was arrested on February 13, 2015, based on a sealed indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Denver on February 11, 2015, on charges of Use of a Facility in Interstate Commerce to Promote a Business Enterprise Involving Prostitution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the Colorado State Patrol announced. Warmack is scheduled to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Denver this afternoon, where he will be advised of his rights and the charges pending against him.

According to the indictment, beginning in August 2011 and continuing through July 2014, Warmack owned and operated a website business named “Sowet.com”. The website promoted and facilitated prostitution that was taking place at various massage parlors across Metro Denver. The massage parlors offered not only massages but also unlawful sexual services.

The defendant charged the owners of the massage parlors for advertisements on his “Sowet” website. He visited some of the businesses, getting unlawful sexual services in exchange for writing a review of the parlor and the specific prostitute that he posted on his site. Further, Warmack posted sexually suggestive photographs of the women in an effort to attract business to the massage parlors.

In his attempt to drive business to the massage parlors, the defendant:

  • Personally visited a site, obtained a massage and sexual services so he could give personal testimonials
  • Giving Internet reviews of the individual sites, including details of the women at each location
  • Providing reviews of the physical location of the massage parlor, including the inside cleanliness and other conditions
  • Posting advertisements with information about location, hours of operation, names of workers, and cost of services for each location
  • Operational procedures of the individual massage parlors, including “door fees”

Warmack also ran a forum on his “Sowet” website where website users could discuss topics on bulletin boards related to the massage parlors. The defendant served as the administrator for these bulletin boards. He also counseled those using the massage parlors on how to handle any law enforcement questioning which they might encounter should law enforcement inspect a massage parlor while they are present.

The defendant received a monthly fee from each of the massage parlors, collecting anywhere from $150 to $400 per location. For some massage parlors, Warmack went further, promoting the businesses by paying for and arranging for additional advertising on other websites, such as “backpage.com” and “craigslist.com”. He collected fees for his additional promotional services.

The main massage parlors Warmack promoted included:

  • Happy Feet, in Golden, from 2011 to 2012
  • Sunday Spa, in Aurora, from 2012 to 2013
  • Jewell Spa, in Lakewood, from 2012 to 2013
  • Abalone Spa, in Wheat Ridge, in 2013
  • Maize Spa, in Aurora, from 2013 to 2014
  • Hill Relaxation Spa, in Parker, in 2014

The indictment includes 20 counts of Use of a Facility in Interstate Commerce to Promote a Business Enterprise Involving Prostitution, including credit card transactions, use of the Internet for advertising purposes, and flying in workers to Colorado from other states to work at the various Metro Denver locations.

If convicted, Warmack faces not more than five years in federal prison per count. He also faces up to $250,000 fine per count.

“Thanks to the hard work of the Colorado Trafficking and Organized Crime Coalition, we were able to help put five illicit massage parlors out of business, and prosecute an individual who was helping those illegally run businesses make money,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh.

“The arrest of David Warmack illustrates the FBI’s commitment to work with its partners to address individuals and businesses that promote and facilitate illegal prostitution and venues for human trafficking,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle. “Thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement partners, the defendant’s illegal activity was identified, he was arrested, and is now being prosecuted.”

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Colorado State Patrol. Additional investigative assistance was provided by members of the Colorado Trafficking and Organized Crime Collation (CTOCC) to include the Arvada Police Department, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Aurora Police Department, Commerce City Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Lakewood Police Department, and the Wheat Ridge Police Department.

The defendant is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Neff.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

  • NOTE: CTOCC: In March 2012, a non-funded Task Force/Coalition named the Colorado Trafficking and Organized Crime Coalition (CTOCC) was created. Its mission is to tackle the emergent problem of involuntary servitude of adults and international victims (to include labor exploitation and commercial sex) within the State of Colorado. CTOCC investigates predicated venues that support human trafficking including the Internet, restaurants, hotels, bars, labor camps, and businesses associated with prostitution. CTOCC’s goal is to investigate, dismantle, and prosecute groups and individuals that hide and launder illicit proceeds from criminal activity such as human trafficking. Currently the FBI partners with over twenty-five local, state, and federal partners that compose CTOCC.