Former Sheriff’s Lieutenant Dave Smith Pleas Guilty to Massage Parlor Charges

Dave Smith. (Photo by Leo Duran, courtesy of KPCC)

David Smith, a lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who worked from the West Hollywood station for years, was sentenced today to 150 hours of community labor and three years of probation in connection with his plea to three misdemeanor counts related to West Hollywood’s illicit massage parlors.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jose I. Sandoval also ordered Smith, 61, and now retired, to pay a $2,500 fine and to stay away from massage parlors following his plea to one count of obstructing an officer and two counts of soliciting a prostitute.

A felony count of conspiracy to obstruct justice was dismissed as a result of Smith’s plea.

The criminal complaint alleged that Smith paid for sex at two massage parlors largely staffed by Asian women between 2016 and 2017 and that he told a massage parlor employee that there may be law enforcement officers near the business and advised her that she may want to close for the evening, according to the District Attorney’s Office. West Hollywood is home to 10 illicit Asian massage parlors according to RubMaps.ch, a website on which clients of such massage parlors post sexually explicit descriptions of the services they have received.

Smith — a 30-year veteran of the sheriff’s department — had worked most of that time at the West Hollywood station. He was “separated from the department” in September 2017, according to the sheriff’s department.

More than a dozen local business owners and executives, along with three former colleagues from the sheriff’s department, wrote letters in support of Smith, who was affectionately known as “Dave,” in the summer of 2017. For years Smith served as the effective liaison with the community, representing the West Hollywood Station at Public Safety Commission meetings and attending City Council meetings.

The criminal case against him was filed in June 2018. The massage parlors cited in the indictment — Pine Therapy Massage at 8424 Santa Monica Blvd. and H20 Massage at 1011 N. Fairfax Ave. – were staffed by Korean women. H20Massage has closed, and while Pine Therapy is said to have closed, it is open again. The District Attorney’s complaint said that Smith received “gifts and services” from Young Kim, owner of Pine Therapy, during 2016 and 2017 and paid for sex there and at H20 Massage in those years.

Smith’s indictment brought to light investigations in the past of allegations that some employees of West Hollywood’s 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.


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Steve Martin
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Steve Martin

Dave Smith was a great guy and did many things to enhance the safety of West Hollywood. But ultimately he betrayed our community and he betrayed the very people he was had pledged an oath to protect. We can have compassion for human failing as each of us has at one time or another come up short of our own standards and expectations. But this was an act of arrogance and exploitation and I believe that by taking advantage of having a badge, his crime in fact greater. I believe that deputies that betray the public trust should lose their… Read more »

Vigilant
Guest
Vigilant

OUCH! “Selective outrage….friends or elected officials. engage in outrageous for unlawful behavior…..make excuses or discount the acts, undermining of the public trust….” Selective memory when campaigning with and for folks like Ed Buck while putting him in the same lane as Dave Smith. Selective outrage.

Randy
Guest
Randy

I agree that these laws are absolutely ridiculous. However, they are laws. And if we don’t want them as such, we should work on eliminating them. But they ARE laws, and does anyone want someone to be above the law, just because you disagree with the law, or because this man was a great civil servant? Does he get an exception for doing so? The right way to handle this is to eliminate these ridiculous laws. Not give an exception to someone, just because he’s a great guy. I don’t mean to sound heartless by saying this.

nir zilberman
Guest
nir zilberman

Lt Dave Smith is an amazing man, He supported our community for so many years, the sad part that so many people forget the great things he did for us. We even forgot that one of our council member did much worst things and cost us so much money and he is “our voice”?
and he is NOT the only one on Our city hall “leaders”.
Shame on us, but in WEHO its all about $.
Dave was and will always will be my HERO!!!!

SEEKEROFRIGHTEOUSNESS
Guest
SEEKEROFRIGHTEOUSNESS

I think you are almost TOO near the truth. Where is Steve Martin when you need him?

Marco Colantonio
Guest
Marco Colantonio

I echo Jimmy Palmieri’s sentiments. Lt. Dave Smith (Smitty) served our community for three decades with courage, compassion and sincere affection. Sadly poor judgement and minor indiscretions blemished what should have been a celebrated end to an exemplary career.

Dave Smith was and is a good man and I hope he and his family move forward with Pride, knowing that he is loved and missed by so many in our community.

I talked to Dave recently and he said: I miss the good citizens of WeHo. We miss you too.

Art Scotti
Guest
Art Scotti

Comments supporting him personally skirt the issue: others who are not high up do exactly the same things yet are punished more severely. Prostitution must be legalized so that sex is safe and trafficking is eliminated. THEN all people can be treated fairly and not stigmatized for their normal needs.

Joan Henehan
Guest
Joan Henehan

Dave is a good man who made some bad decisions, which I’m sure he regrets. He and his family have my sympathies for the embarrassment these incidents have caused. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Ken Howard
Guest
Ken Howard

This is SO frustrating on so many levels. It just underscores how criminalizing sex work serves no one. To think that our court resources (at taxpayer expense) were spent on prosecuting this well-respected man is ridiculous. It is SO far beyond time to de-criminalize sex work. The thing that jumped out at me, though, in this story, is the question of how the sex workers at the “spa” are treated. Are we talking human trafficking here? Are the sex workers paid well? Treated well? Are they being abused? Are they being held there against their will, intimidated and threatened by… Read more »

Vigilant
Guest
Vigilant

Have you considered ethics as a priority? Particularly on behalf of a law enforcement officer who should have known better than to get involved in something so risky. It’s great that folks think Dave Smith is a good man. Perhaps his community service can involve speaking to school kids and others incarcerated on like minded crimes to emphasize the priority of ethics and that one has only one reputation that follows you everywhere.

Conflating the remainder of the issues thrown in here is not beneficial

Cop Chaseg
Guest
Cop Chaseg

Oh yes he should lecter school kids since he only plead to a misdemeanor of paying for a sex massage. “Kids when you grow up your bodies willi change. Never ever think it is ok to use your lunch money to get a rub down. Especially if they want to tickle you with a feather. Because after that you will only experience stormy weather.

This should replace drag queen story hour.

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

A guilty plea to lesser charges often is done to get things settled – etc – like keeping his pension…

James Palmieri
Guest
James Palmieri

Sometimes good men do stupid things. Dave Smith was a good guy. I miss him. I’m glad this is behind him and he can do his service and move on with his life.

Manny
Guest
Manny

Agreed. He was a good and reliable friend to our community.

Josh Kurpies
Guest
Josh Kurpies

Couldn’t agree with you more Jimmie. I wish him and his family only the best in years to come.

Ruth Williams
Guest
Ruth Williams

Thank you Jimmy, I agree with you Dave always cared about the community. He was always accessible to the residents, cared about their issues and acted on them. In the years I knew him, he always treated everyone with respect. I’m sure the impact on his family was devastating.

Keith Kaplan
Guest

Thanks James. Dave Smith was one of the best examples we’ve had in the Sheriff’s department of how an officer can effectively engage in a community. He was one of us and you recognized his passion and compassion for West Hollywood.