Ex-Stripper Made Millions Slinging Sex at Bikini Coffee Stands

Carmela Panico is accused of running a multimillion-dollar prostitution ring out of her Java Juggs and Twin Peaks coffee huts in Washington. Some of her barely clad baristas earned $30,000 a month

Authorities in Washington state have charged a former stripper with allegedly running a prostitution ring and multimillion-dollar money-laundering operation through a network of infamous bikini coffee stands, according to court documents obtained by Vocativ.

Prosecutors say that Carmela Panico, 52, acted as the madam of several drive-through brothels that allowed her to personally pocket more than $2 million in just three years. Meanwhile, the barely clad baristas who worked at her Java Juggs and Twin Peaks coffee huts banked as much as $30,000 a month by performing sex acts with customers.

One barista even told investigators that she earned more than a half-million dollars turning tricks at Panico’s bikini coffee stands. In charging papers, Snohomish County authorities were blunt. “Panico’s businesses were driven by prostitution and lewd behavior,” Deputy Prosecutor Bob Hendrix wrote.

While more than a few of the 130-plus sexpresso stands that line the roads in Oregon and Washington have generated controversy in the last few years, Panico’s have remained in a league of their own.

In 2011, surveillance footage captured Panico and several of her baristas pole dancing at a Java Juggs while letting customers fondle their breasts. A later investigation revealed that a sheriff’s sergeant had been tipping off Panico and her employees to police activity in exchange for sexual favors.

According to court documents, Panico allegedly preferred to hire baristas who were former dancers or escorts. They were required to pay her a certain amount of money during each shift they worked and could then pocket whatever cash was left over. Baristas were allegedly fined if they did not wear high heels, have a tan or wear makeup. Wearing boots in the winter was a big no-no as well, according to court documents.

Panico, who police say was a former exotic dancer with ties to the Seattle-based Colacurcio crime family, claims she is now no longer in the coffee business, having sold off or leased her tainted stands. She’s scheduled to appear in Snohomish County Superior Court next week.

HEALTH

Indiana HIV Outbreak: Number of Cases Jumps To 135

James King
US POLITICS

Loretta Lynch Vote Will Finally Go Ahead After Longest Wait Ever

Mike Spies
SCIENCE

Measles Vaccine Still Doesn't Cause Autism

Joshua A. Krisch
GLOBAL

Migrant Death Toll Already 10 Times Higher As More Vessels Sink

Sarah Kaufman
SCIENCE

The Science Is Shaky When It Comes To Medical Marijuana

Joshua A. Krisch
SCIENCE

Influential Doctors' Group Urges Ban On E-Cig Flavors, Advertising

Shane Dixon Kavanaugh
TV&MOVIES

Game Of Thrones Is Killing Mad Men On Social Media

Leigh Cuen
LGBT

Beating Of Transgender Prisoner Causes Outrage In Brazil

Luke Malone