3 baristas arrested for ‘exhibition and exposure’

EVERETT — Three Everett baristas were arrested Wednesday for allegedly selling customers sexy shows in violation of city adult-entertainment codes.

“We arrested the participants in the act,” Everett police spokesman Aaron Snell said.

The violations are alleged at the Grab-N-Go espresso stands at 2030 Broadway and 333 SE Everett Mall Way.

All three suspects were released from custody Wednesday after being interviewed. They are a 16-year-old from Everett, a 21-year-old from Shoreline, and a 29-year-old from Seattle. Police aren’t releasing their names pending potential charges.

The stands’ owner on Wednesday denied any wrongdoing.

The arrests about 1 p.m. Wednesday were the culmination of a two-month investigation by undercover detectives, Snell said. The investigation began after people lodged complaints with the cops.

The women are accused of breaking the city’s “Adult Cabaret Law,” regarding adult entertainment.

That’s a misdemeanor offense, Snell said. The investigation is ongoing, but there are no indications of prostitution activity so far, he said.

Detectives on Wednesday evening were interviewing the women at the police department, Snell said. It wasn’t immediately clear if they’d be booked into jail.

Detectives had not yet confirmed their ages, Snell said.

“That information will be forthcoming,” he said.

Investigators reported “uncovered exhibition and exposure,” Everett police Lt. Jim Duffy said.

“During the investigation, video surveillance showed that at times coffee or drinks were not served, but shows were paid for and given,” he said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the coffee stand owners were involved, Snell said.

State licensing records show the Grab-N-Go company is based in Everett and owns nine espresso stands and other sorts of food-and-drink establishments locally.

One of the listed owners is the son of Bill Wheeler. Bill D. Wheeler Jr. took over the stands after his father went missing in 2010.

The Wheeler family was at the center of a 2009 prostitution investigation involving baristas performing lewd acts at espresso stands.

Bill Wheeler never was found.

Bill D. Wheeler Jr. on Wednesday told The Herald that he enforces strict policies for his six baristas, including no drug use, and no personal visitors at the stands.

Flashing is not allowed, he said.

“They have to be dressed a certain way,” he said. “Their crotch has to be covered up. They can’t expose their areolas.”

Violation of the rules is grounds for immediate termination, he said.

“I have to be like that,” he said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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