Owners To Forfeit $1,270,000 in criminal proceeds
SAN FRANCISCO– LAWFUEL – Press Release Service – United States Attorney Kevin V. Ryan announced today that two women, Yon Suk Pang, 56, and Min Sung Kim, 50, pleaded guilty on July 5, 2006, to charges relating to the operation of two brothels in San Francisco. Yon Suk Pang, of San Francisco, pleaded guilty to an alien harboring conspiracy and a money laundering conspiracy in connection with the operation of Suk Hee Oriental Massage Parlor, a brothel located at 483 Broadway in San Francisco. Pang agreed to forfeit $1,200,000, which represents proceeds of her criminal activity. Min Sung Kim, of Cupertino, pleaded guilty to alien harboring in connection with the operation of Golden Dragon Spa, a brothel located at 136 Mason Street in San Francisco, and agreed to forfeit $70,000, which represents proceeds of her criminal activity.
U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan stated, “To date, ten defendants have pleaded guilty in connection with Operation Gilded Cage. These pleas, which include the forfeiture of over $1.2 million, demonstrate our ongoing commitment to criminally prosecuting those who illegally harbor aliens for financial gain. I thank all of the federal and local authorities who worked tirelessly to bring these individuals to justice.”
These guilty pleas are the result of Operation Gilded Cage, an investigation and prosecution carried out by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI, the San Francisco Police Department, IRS–Criminal Investigation, and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.
Ms. Pang pleaded guilty to an alien harboring conspiracy, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(v)(I), and a money laundering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). In pleading guilty, Ms. Pang admitted to the following:
Since at least 1995, she owned and operated Suk Hee Oriental Massage Parlor. Since before January 2003, Ms. Pang employed foreign national females, typically Korean females, as prostitutes. Ms. Pang obtained some of these women through brokers and paid the brokers for the debts the women incurred, which usually ranged from $10,000 to $15,000. Ms. Pang held their passports until they paid their debts. She harbored these illegal aliens by concealing their existence from state and federal agencies by not reporting them as employees and requiring the women to live in a concealed apartment adjacent to the brothel. Ms. Pang held the women’s earnings and, on occasion, arranged to move the money back to Korea on their behalf. Furthermore, Ms. Pang used the funds generated by the illegal activity occurring at the brothel to pay for the operating expenses and promote the on-going alien harboring and prostitution occurring there. Between January 2003 and June 30, 2005, Ms. Pang earned $1,200,000 — which were the proceeds of alien harboring — as a result of her ownership of Suk Hee.
“This investigation has graphically demonstrated the callous disregard that those who harbor aliens have for their victims,” said Charles DeMore, Secial Agent in Charge for the ICE office of investigations in San Francisco. “The criminal enterprise uncovered in this case was hugely lucrative for the defendants involved and it is entirely appropriate that they pay a high price for their illegal activities.”
Ms. Kim pleaded guilty to alien harboring in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324 (a)(1)(A)(iii). In pleading guilty, Ms. Kim admitted to the following:
From 1997 to June 30, 2005, she owned Golden Dragon Spa with various partners. During that time, Golden Dragon operated as a brothel and, during certain times, employed Korean females without legal status to work in the United States as prostitutes. Specifically, Ms. Kim admitted that on June 30, 2005, she employed seven illegal aliens as prostitutes at Golden Dragon. She admitted to concealing women from detection from immigration authorities by failing to report them as employees to the government. She would further conceal the women by ringing an alarm to signal them to hide from authorities in an adjacent apartment that she had rented. During the time prior to her arrest, Ms. Kim made $70,000 from operating Golden Dragon.
Ms. Pang is scheduled to be sentenced on October 18, 2006. Ms. Kim is scheduled to be sentenced September 6, 2006. Both hearings will be held before U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer in San Francisco.
The maximum statutory penalty for alien harboring conspiracy is ten years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, three years supervised release term, and a $100 mandatory special assessment. The maximum statutory penalty for the money laundering conspiracy is 20 years imprisonment, a fine of $500,000 (or twice the value of the funds involved, whichever is greater), five years supervised release term, and a $100 mandatory special assessment. The maximum statutory penalty for alien harboring in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) is five years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, three years supervised release, and a $100 mandatory 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.
Peter Axelrod and Laurel Beeler are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the cases, with the assistance of paralegal Kristina Pollak and legal technicians Mae Chu and Tyle Doerr.
Case #: CR 05-00447 CRB
Case #: CR 06-0101 CRB
A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.
Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at www.cand.uscourts.gov.
All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Luke Macaulay at (415) 436-6757 or by email at [email protected]