A San Francisco federal grand jury indicted 10 people who allegedly were involved in recruiting and enticing Asian women to work as prostitutes at their various brothels they operated in apartments across the Bay Area.
According to United States Attorney Melinda Haag, all 10 defendants are charged with conspiracy to conduct a racketeering enterprise for operating 40 brothels in the San Francisco Bay Area between August 2002 through July 2014.
The defendants include the following: Allen Fong, Ya Huai Hung, Leow Wan Ru Veron, Robert Chun, Jie Mu, Laurence Shu Kwan Lee, Kevin Hartig, Waylon Fong, Angelina Chuong, and Chonthicha Jaemratanasophin. They're also being charged with use of facility in interstate and foreign commerce to promote prostitution; Laundering of monetary instruments; importation of aliens for an immoral purpose; and transportation in interstate and foreign commerce for prostitution.
Here's how they pulled it off, according to the indictment:
Members and associates of the Enterprise solicited, enticed, and persuaded adult females, primarily from Asian countries, to work for the Enterprise as prostitutes in the Northern District of California. The Enterprise rented the apartments used as brothels through nominee lessees for limited periods of time, and then opened other brothels, often with overlapping rental periods. The Enterprise used social networking websites such as MyRedbook.com, Craigslist.org, and Backpage.com to post advertisements for prostitution services, which included contact information and photographs of nude and partially nude women assuming provocative and suggestive poses. The Enterprise’s telephone operators answered the calls for telephone numbers posted on the website advertisements for prostitution services, coordinated the meeting place between the prostitutes and their customers (“Johns”), and directed the “Johns” to a particular brothel. The prostitutes kept approximately two-thirds of their earnings from the “Johns” and paid one-third to the Enterprise, primarily through Allen Fong, the alleged ringleader of the Enterprise.
These brothels were being operated in Pinole, San Mateo, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, Belmont, Fremont, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Foster City, San Bruno, Colma, and South San Francisco.
Authorities were able to track the communications between the enterprise and their workers through wire transfers found between March 4, 2004, through Oct. 3, 2013. During that time, members of this brothel enterprise sent numerous outgoing international wire transfers to Asian countries, including Singapore, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, to known Enterprise members and prostitutes.
Per the indictment:
Enterprise members sent at least 23 international wire transfers, totaling $179,218.00, to Leow Wan Ru Veron, the Enterprise’s recruiter of prostitutes in Singapore. Chonthicha Jaemratanasophin, an Enterprise prostitute, funded twenty international wire transfers, totaling $109,300.00, to Singapore and Thailand.
If convicted, they all face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to conduct a racketeering enterprise and money laundering; 10 years for conspiracy to import aliens for immoral purpose and transportation in interstate and foreign commerce for prostitution; and five years for conspiracy to use a facility in interstate and foreign commerce to promote prostitution.
They'll also be fined between $250,000 to $500,000, or twice the gross profits or value of the funds, whichever is greater.