Manager at bikini espresso stands charged with promoting prostitution

EVERETT — A Shoreline woman who was a pioneer in the multimillion-dollar business of running drive-through brothels at Snohomish County bikini-espresso stands is now charged with two counts of promoting prostitution.

Samantha Breanne Lancaster, 24, worked as a manager at Java Juggs stands and encouraged baristas to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for money, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Janice Albert said in court papers.

For $6, customers visiting the stands could get a cup of coffee and a “booty shake” from a barista wearing a bikini or lingerie.

If the customer was willing to pay more, however, Lancaster encouraged workers to put on “shows,” flashing their breasts and genitals and at times engaging in sex acts with customers and other baristas, the prosecutor wrote in Snohomish County Superior Court papers filed Tuesday.

“Lancaster not only knew of the lewd conduct and prostitution, she took part in, encouraged it, and promoted it,” Albert wrote. “Video from Snohomish County stands in May and June 2013 captured acts of lewdness and prostitution by Lancaster and others.”

Second-degree promotion of prostitution is a felony.

The allegations against Lancaster are part of a larger investigation that in 2013 snared the stands’ owner, Carmela Panico, and led to public corruption charges for a former sheriff’s sergeant.

Panico in September pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution and money laundering. She forfeited $250,000 cash seized in the investigation and walked away from her stands.

As part of the plea, Panico admitted her stands were drive-through brothels that brought her millions of dollars.

Darrell O’Neill, a former sheriff’s sergeant, is awaiting a February trial on allegations that he fed Panico and her employees information in exchange for sexual favors. He resigned not long after his arrest.

Baristas told detectives that Lancaster received information from O’Neill about police undercover investigations and she would warn workers when to be careful, Albert said.

“Lancaster and Panico let their baristas know that O’Neill was ‘dirty’ and on their side,” she wrote. “Baristas were told to be nice to him” and let him fondle them and engage them in other sexual conduct.

“The baristas said they were supposed to keep O’Neill happy,” the prosecutor added.

After her arrest in 2013, Lancaster spoke with investigators, explained how the business worked and “admitted to passing on O’Neill’s information about officers and investigations in order to be able to continue the stands’ activities,” Albert said.

Lancaster has no criminal history, but in 2009, at 18, she was among the baristas working for Bill Wheeler Sr. at a Grab-N-Go espresso stand in Everett. The stands made national headlines after Everett cops alleged the baristas were exposing themselves to customers in exchange for money. She faced no jail time, but unsuccessfully fought to block public records requests brought by people who wanted to see the risque photographs taken during the police investigation.

Lancaster moved on to work for Panico, and managed her stands from 2011 until 2013.

The city this month moved to seize control of the stands Panico formerly owned. Three have been operated since January by a company owned by Lancaster. They remain a nuisance.

“We are also aware that you and your employees continue to engage in the same illegal conduct,” that led to the stands being raided in 2013 assistant city attorney Ramsey Ramerman wrote the Shoreline woman earlier this month.

They told her she must be out of the stands this week.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @snorthnews

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