The owner of an alleged brothel in Spokane Valley is back in jail and faces new charges of leading organized crime, a class A felony punishable by potential life imprisonment, in connection with a series of raids conducted in 2012.
Brandy Birkland, 34, former co-owner of Montana’s spa on East Trent Avenue, was booked into Spokane County Jail on Thursday. Police arrested her after prosecutors, looking to wrap up the long-running case, were unable to contact her, according to investigators. She previously was arrested on charges of promoting prostitution and money laundering.
Montana’s was one of eight alleged Spokane brothels raided during Operation Red Light in 2012, a multiagency bust of businesses catering to pay-for-sex customers that was launched after complaints from Northern Quest Casino personnel.
The investigation was launched by the Airway Heights Police Department, which began recruiting suspected prostitutes as confidential informants to go after the ring-leaders of the alleged racket. Airway Heights Police Detective Kelly Justice said Friday that Birkland was arrested because prosecutors hadn’t heard from her as investigators look to wrap up legal action against the businesses within the next month.
“This thing should be coming to a close relatively soon, with either charges and/or pleas,” Justice said.
An informant working for the department applied for a job at Montana’s in April 2012, according to court documents. When asked by a manager, identified as “Jewell,” whether she’d worked in a spa before, the informant replied only that she’d received work through an online website known by police as a bulletin board for solicitations.
“Well, you know what goes on here,” the manager told the informant in reply, according to court documents. A subsequent police search of the business by Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies revealed condoms and other items thought to have been used in promoting prostitution.
Law enforcement agents from the Kalispel Tribe Police Department, Department of Homeland Security and Washington state Gambling Commission also assisted in the raids.
Birkland’s business associate, Mikal Chandler, remains at-large but is also wanted, Justice said. The legal process has stretched into another year, raising red flags about defendants who have gone off the radar, he added.
“That’s the concern, whenever you go into a lengthy investigation like this,” Justice said.
Birkland is scheduled to make a first appearance on the charges in court as early as this afternoon.