Did sergeant in 'bikini barista' sting help drive-through coffee shops operate as strip clubs?

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An investigation by Washington state and federal authorities into claims of lewd behavior and prostitution by “bikini baristas” at drive-through Snohomish County coffee shops such as Java Juggs and Twin Peaks during the past several years hadn’t been going well.

Suspicious investigators wanted to know why customers routinely paid $20 for a cup of coffee and at least one barista brought in $100,000 annually in tips, the Seattle Times reports.

Somehow, though, the baristas seemed to know when law enforcement was watching them. Now officials are pointing the finger at Snohomish County Sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell O’Neill, who was arrested recently in an investigation of promoting prostitution and official misconduct charges. He is now on administrative leave and the subject of an internal investigation.

A search warrant filed Monday in Snohomish County Superior Court alleges that surveillance cameras placed by the FBI captured footage of O’Neill hugging several baristas but never spotted him buying a cup of coffee.

Seven espresso stands were raided Tuesday, and multiple individuals were arrested. They included Carmela Panico, the owner of the establishments, the Herald reported. A Snohomish County Superior Court search warrant filed in the case asserts that the Java Juggs locations “essentially operate as drive-through strip clubs or brothels.”

The newspaper says O’Neill is accused of tipping off baristas about the investigation in exchange for sexual favors.

None of the articles contains any comment from O’Neill or his legal counsel.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Coffee Shop Owner Guilty of Indecent Exposure Due to Skimpy See-Through Shorts on ‘Bikini Barista’”

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