Defendants Charged in 74-Count Indictment in Operation Gilded Cage I…

Defendants Charged in 74-Count Indictment in Operation Gilded Cage Investigation

SAN FRANCISCO – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – United States Attorney Kevin V. Ryan announced that a federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Yon Suk Pang, 56, of San Francisco and Hyon Chu Yim, 45, of San Leandro, on February 16, 2006, with alien harboring, conspiring to launder money, and related offenses in connection with employing alien females as prostitutes for financial gain. The indictment, which was unsealed yesterday, brings charges related to the defendants’ alleged operation of a brothel, known as Suk Hee Oriental Massage, located at 483 Broadway Street in San Francisco.

According to the indictment, the defendants are alleged to have engaged in a conspiracy from January 2003 until June 30, 2005, related to the operation of Suk Hee. During that time, the defendants employed alien females to work as prostitutes at Suk Hee. As part of the conspiracy, Pang paid brokers who delivered alien females, and Pang held the women’s passports until they re-paid their debts. Further, the defendants housed women employees in an adjacent unit that the women accessed by climbing through a window, and collected payment from the employees for that housing.

This indictment is the result of an investigation, called Operation Gilded Cage, by the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the San Francisco Police Department, IRS – Criminal Investigation, and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.

This is the first Gilded Cage indictment since the execution of numerous arrest and search warrants on June 30, 2005, to specifically focus on the operators of one of brothels targeted in those raids. Yon Suk Pang was previously indicted in June 2005. This indictment adds Ms. Yim as a defendant, and adds numerous new charges against both defendants. This investigation is ongoing.

The charges are as follows:

* Counts 1 – 8 (Alien Harboring for Prostitution). These counts include an alien harboring conspiracy and seven substantive counts of harboring for the purpose of prostitution.

* Counts 9 – 16 (Alien Harboring for Commercial Advantage or Private Financial Gain). These counts encompass a conspiracy and seven substantive counts.

* Counts 17 – 74 (Money Laundering). These counts include a conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and substantive money laundering counts totaling approximately $171,513.

* Forfeiture Allegations. The indictment seeks forfeiture of property related to these crimes, including $86,046 previously seized on June 30, 2005.

Ms. Yim was arrested at her home on Wednesday in San Leandro and made her initial appearance in federal court in San Francisco yesterday. She was released on a $300,000 bond with electronic monitoring. Ms. Pang was previously charged in United States v. Yang et al., CR 05-00395 CRB, and was previously released on $300,000 bond. Both defendants appeared this morning before Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James in San Francisco. They are scheduled for an initial appearance before U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker on February 28, 2005, at 10:30 a.m.

The maximum statutory penalties for these charges are as follows:

Count 1: 18 U.S.C. § 371 (conspiracy): 5 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, 3 years supervised release, $100 special assessment.
Counts 2-8: 8 U.S.C. § 1328 (harboring for prostitution): 10 years imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 3 years supervised release, $100 special assessment.
Count 9: 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324(a)(1)(A)(v)(I) (harboring conspiracy): 10 years imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 3 years supervised release, $100 special assessment.
Counts 10-16: 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) and 1324(a)(1)(B)(i) (alien harboring for gain): 10 years imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 3 years supervised release, $100 special assessment.
Count 17: 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) (money laundering conspiracy): 20 years, $500,000 fine, 5 years supervised release, $100 special assessment.
Counts 18-74: 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(A)(i): 20 years, $500,000 fine, 5 years supervised release, $100 special assessment.

However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

An indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Ms. Pang and Ms. Yim must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Peter B. Axelrod and Laurel Beeler are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of paralegal Kristina Pollak and legal techs Mae Chu and Tyle Doerr.

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