Update: The Complaint Filed with His Indictment Suggests Lt. Dave Smith May Have Been Complicit in Human Trafficking

Lt. Dave Smith, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department deputy whose 30 years of service in West Hollywood has made him a well-known local figure, has been charged with obstructing justice for allegedly tipping off a massage parlor employee about upcoming law enforcement raids in exchange for sexual favors or gifts.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced the charge this morning. Smith, 59, has been charged on one felony count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice. He was scheduled to be arraigned this morning at the Folz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Lt. David Smith

An announcement from the District Attorney’s Office said that “according to the criminal complaint, Smith said he would conduct lawful inspections at massage parlors in West Hollywood. However, Smith is accused of paying for sex at two of the locations between 2016 and 2017. He also allegedly received gifts from a massage parlor employee.

“In return, Smith is accused of checking to see whether law enforcement planned on raiding the employee’s location. On one occasion, Smith allegedly told the employee there may be law enforcement officers near the business and advised her she might want to close for the evening, according to the complaint.

“If convicted as charged, Smith faces a possible maximum sentence of three years in state prison or jail.”

The massage parlors where Smith is said to have received sexual favors are Pine Therapy Massage at 8424 Santa Monica Blvd. and H20 Massage at 1011 N. Fairfax Ave. Secretary of State records identify the owner of Pine Therapy as Andrew S. Lee and the treasurer as Young N. Kim. H20, whose business license expired in March and hasn’t been renewed, apparently was owned by Huasheng Chen of Tracy, Calif., and managed by Li Wang.

Smith, who joined the station in October 1985, was suspended with pay last June for reasons not then made public. He later announced his early retirement from the Sheriff’s Department.

Known by many as Smitty, Smith became the very public face of the local Sheriff’s Station. With the exception of a one-year assignment at the Lynwood Jail, Smith spent 30 years working in West Hollywood.

In 2004, Smith was promoted to lieutenant and took on the role of overseeing the COPS team and the Entertainment Policing team that covers the Boystown and Sunset Strip nightlife districts). He also oversaw major public events such as the annual Halloween Carnaval and the gay Pride festival. He represented the station at the monthly meetings of the city’s Public Safety Commission.

The indictment brings to light an investigation that has been going on for a number of years over allegations that some employees of West Hollywood’s dozens of massage businesses are undocumented workers who are not paid or treated according to government standards and are afraid to complain for fear they will be extradited.

A list of businesses registered with the City of West Hollywood that was obtained last year identifies 162 licensed masseurs working out of about 60 locations. The names of a large number of those masseurs suggests they are of Korean descent and thus could be undocumented.

The complaint says that Smith was aware that the Sheriff’s Department’s Vice/Human Trafficking Bureaus had conducted a surveillance of local massage businesses in 2012 as well as other investigations. Young Kim, who apparently managed the Pine Therapy Massage parlor, is said in the complaint to have accepted payment from Detective Gary Furuyama of the Vice / Human Trafficking Bureaus in August 2012 at which point he was offered a sexual encounter, providing evidence that prostitution was taking place.

The complaint says that Smith received “gifts and services” from Young Kim during 2016 and 2017 and paid for sex there and at H20 Massage in those years.

The complaint also gives a vague description of an incident that occurred on June 4, 2017, in which Smith followed Vice Detective Aaron Korth when Korth left Pine Therapy Massage after an apparent investigation.

It was that incident that brought Smith’s alleged behavior to the attention of some lower-ranking employees of the Sheriff’s Station, some of who are said to have had a difficult relationship with Smith. WEHOville learned details of that incident many months ago but was unable to adequately confirm them so that it could publish a story.

The complaint alleges that on June 4 Smith asked deputies to find out whether there was any law enforcement action planned or taking place related to Pine Therapy Massage. According to the complaint, Smith then called Young Kim and warned her that law enforcement officers were nearby and suggested she be careful or close the business.

According to the complaint, Smith said he entered Pine Therapy on June 4 only to warn the manager of upcoming street closures. Smith told an investigator that he only entered Pine Therapy every other month to “conduct lawful inspections and on those occasions would be wearing a business suit or department-issued uniform.”

The complaint also notes that a “Suspected Child Abuse Report” may be made regarding allegations against Smith.

  1. I believe Wehoville’s reporting, but I find any prosecutor who would prosecute this matter based on the facts I read unqualified to do their job.

    1. “Allegedly tipping off.” This is a credibility/hearsay question and if this is what the case is based upon–drop it.

    2. You will charge him with both Felony and Misdemeanor Obstruction of Justice? Ah, I see. The Case is too weak so we want to try to get some plea; we know we can’t win.

    3. Detective Furuyama conducted a lawful inspection, was offered sex—therefore prostitution—who offered him the sex, the owner or a massage technician? If it was the technician is she going to testify?

    4. Smith asked others to check and see—why would he need to do this unless there was some internal sting being conducted on Smith? So much hearsay!

    5. If there were 60 locations, why was the focus only on these 2?

    6. A vague description on June 4 by Aaron Korth led other employees who held a grudge against Smith to deduce that Smith was obstructing justice; the very same lower ranking deputies that did not have the experience to manage the Cops team. Nothing odd here.

    7. Smith entered Pine Therapy on June 4 to “warn.” Yes the prosecutors are mind readers they know what his intent was and can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Lt. Smith should get a good defense attorney; something tells me that this is a House of Cards and Lt. Smith is no Kevin Spacey, just a good Cop suffering a grudge!

  2. how do you know he is crooked? Because a Massage parlor hooker filed a complaint? I hope you are never on a jury sir , you will convict before you hear the story.

  3. When Dave did not return my calls to his home I knew something was up but could find no one to tell me anything. A few raised eyebrows gave me only a clue. From the time we both sat on Orals Boards to interview potential new captains for WEHO station, I always thought of him as a very modern cop. This story is disheartening and allegations await proof at a trial, not before.

  4. Allegations are not facts. As far as taking care of business Smitty was always available and on call 24/7 and he never asked me for any sexual favors. 🙂

    1. I don’t believe this is about his requesting “sexual acts/favors” as a part of his working as a Law Enforcer.

      A single person’s anecdotal experience with this or any one in Law Enforcement means nothing.

      Adding Mr. Block’s large presence within WEHO, Store Owner, Constant Contribution of his opinions about all kinds of city issues (and non-issues), his run(s) for election to the WEHO city Council … One would expect Mr Block’s history (infra) and personal friendly relations with most if not all City Council Members … I would expect any local Sheriff would be eager to assist Mr. Block … IRRELEVANT OF ANY OR NO CRIMINAL ALLEGATIONS ANY OFFICER MAY OR MAY NOT BE FACING.

  5. It must have been pretty serious. The Sheriff’s Department enjoys near full freedom from any wrongdoing. To have the D.A. (who have a symbiotic working relationship w/Sheriffs – each needs the other to do their jobs – hence each protect the other) {worked first had @ DA for a while}. And this comes after the once top Sheriff’s Deputy for WeHo Station, Mr. Tanaka, is already in jail for the whole big cover-up inside main Jail. (Lee Baca {right} was Tanaka’s boss.

  6. sad is all i can say. the smitty i knew was a good guy. i’ll remember his respect towards the lgbt community.

    1. Ironic … But in reality the whole law enforcements – virtually all cities/States have major criminal activity that would be caught by law enforcement, if it wasn’t the “law enforcement” who would have to arrest themselves. Was it Scott Peterson who killed a bunch of wives and got away with it for decades being a member of his own local law enforcement.

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