KITTERY (AP) – After an eight-month investigation, the Maine attorney general’s office has cleared the Kittery Police Department and Chief Edward Strong of any wrongdoing related to a local massage parlor that operated for years as a brothel.

“We found no credible evidence to support allegations that the Kittery PD neglected its enforcement responsibilities or that Chief Strong improperly interfered with any investigation of the Danish Health Club,” Attorney General Steven Rowe said in a letter Tuesday to Town Manager Jonathan Carter.

Although the investigation was prompted by concerns that Strong had turned a blind eye to prostitution at the club, Rowe said the police department had made numerous requests since 1984 seeking federal intervention in the matter.

The Town Council requested the state investigation after its former chairman, Gary Reiner, was convicted last September of federal prostitution and money laundering charges linked to his operation of the club. Reiner was later sentenced to five years in prison.

Testimony during the trial indicated that Reiner told a club manager that Strong would alert him to any impending raid, but Rowe’s letter made it plain that such allegations were unfounded.

Town officials said the attorney general’s decision should give a boost to Kittery’s reputation, while Strong said he hopes it will restore confidence in the police department.

“It’ll show that something came in town, was able to operate without detection by authorities for quite a while, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t do anything,” he said. “The main thing was that the place was closed, put out of business, and the people that needed to went to jail.”

Rowe’s letter said investigators reviewed the police department’s records and licensing files from 1984 to the present as well as documents from the federal prosecution of the Danish Health Club. The probe included more than 20 interviews with officers, civilian witnesses and federal investigators.

Strong said he long suspected criminal activity at the club but was unable to do anything about it until federal authorities raided the establishment in 2004. He said his department has cooperated with federal agencies and sparked several investigations.

“People gotta realize some things take time,” he said.

The chief praised Rowe’s office for conducting a thorough review.

“I’m pleased that they took their time, they did an in-depth investigation and came out to the conclusions that show that we’d done what we could do as a law enforcement agency over the last 20 years,” he said. “It has been a strain and I’m glad that it’s over, but the answers had to come out from the questions that people were asking.”

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