A woman at the center of a years-long investigation into a string of illicit Tucson massage parlors has pleaded guilty to two felonies.
During a status conference in Pima County Superior Court on May 17, Clarissa Lopez entered an unscheduled change of plea, pleading guilty to one count of keeping a house of prostitution and one count of receiving the earnings of a prostitute, both class 5 felonies, according to court records.
Lopez was facing a total of eight felony charges, including illegal control of an enterprise, money laundering and pandering.
She was indicted in February 2016, a year after Tucson police raided multiple locations across town believed to be affiliated with the By Spanish prostitution raid, according to Arizona Daily Star archives.
A first-time offender, Lopez is facing a maximum sentence of two years in prison for each charge.
Lopez’s sentencing is scheduled for June 19.
Her boyfriend, Ulises Ruiz, will be going to trial next year in connection with the case, and is facing six felonies, including illegal control of an enterprise, keeping a house of prostitution, money laundering and receiving the earnings of a prostitute.
In the Wednesday status conference, Pima County Superior Court Judge Howard Fell set a trial date for Jan. 9, 2018, and estimated the trial would last three days.
In a May 8 settlement conference, Sean Bruner, an assistant Pima County public defender who is Ruiz’s attorney, said there was no evidence his client did anything to merit the charges levied against him and that the county attorney’s office was “trying to pull him in because he’s the boyfriend.”
Ruiz’s only connection to By Spanish is that he answered the phone once or twice, Bruner said.
As a result of TPD’s investigation into By Spanish, eight police department employees lost their jobs after they were found to be customers of or have knowledge of the illicit business. Police also identified government employees, firefighters, Border Patrol agents and Air Force personnel as customers.