Defendants in Prostitution Ring Sentenced in Federal Court
Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced that four defendants were sentenced in Macon today by the Honorable Marc T. Treadwell, United States District Court Judge, in connection with the operation of a place of prostitution and money laundering activities. The charges against the four defendants, all Korean nationals, stemmed from the operation of the Sedona Tanning Salon, formerly known as the Soft Hands Massage Parlor, located at 1922 Riverside Drive, Macon, Georgia, from August 2008 to March 2012.
The owner of the business and admitted leader of the operation, Hyeon Joo Chae, age 45, was sentenced to three years in federal prison for conspiracy to promote prostitution and money laundering offences. In addition, she forfeited her interest in a condominium in Buckhead (Atlanta) Georgia as well as a BMW X5 automobile and $4000 in cash. It should be noted that there is no parole in the federal penal system.
Also sentenced for conspiracy to promote prostitution was Kye Wol Dyreson, age 73, who at various times served as the manager of the facility in the absence of Ms. Chae. Ms. Dyreson received three years’ probation for her role in the scheme.
The two remaining defendants, who cooperated with the prosecuting authorities in this case, each were sentenced to probation for the offense of misprision of a felony. Ki Un Jordan, age 49, was given three years’ probation and Jin Noh was sentenced to one year of probation for their activities in connection with the prostitution business.
Ms. Chae, the owner of the business, admitted changing the name of the business and putting its ownership into a “shell” corporation controlled by her when she became concerned that it had drawn the interest of law enforcement authorities. She also maintained and used various bank accounts in the name of herself, the business, and the corporation to launder, or conceal, the illegal nature of the income it was generating. Ms. Chae also admitted that, though the establishment purported to be a massage and tanning parlor, it operated solely as a place of prostitution, having only one unused tanning bed and no personnel qualified to perform legitimate massage services. Credit cards were accepted for payment, supplying the interstate nexus necessary for federal prosecution. Virtually all of the women employed by the business were Korean nationals. Ms. Chae had twice previously pled guilty to maintaining a place of prostitution in the State Court of Bibb County, Georgia.
The case was the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Macon/Bibb County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. “Among the priority programs of the United States Department of Justice are the prevention and prosecution of human trafficking and the protection of the most vulnerable in our society. This is one of several cases of this nature in which my office has been involved over the past months and it is an excellent example of the results that can be obtained from the outstanding cooperation by local and federal authorities such as occurred here,” said United States Attorney Michael J. Moore.
J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “Establishing and maintaining a false business front to allow for various criminal activities is something that could, if left unaddressed by law enforcement, lead to more established and organized criminal activities within our community to include that of human trafficking. The FBI will continue to work with its many law enforcement partners as we identify, investigate, and present for prosecution such individuals who are engaged in this type of criminal activity and are doing so in such a brazen fashion.”
“This case is a perfect example of federal law enforcement agencies coming together to put a stop to criminal activity in Georgia communities,” said Ryan Spradlin, Acting Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office has moved aggressively to prosecute prostitution activity in the Middle District of Georgia, and HSI special agents will continue to support these investigations wherever they might occur with the hopes of identifying victims of exploitation.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to addressing fraud at every level and is proud to have worked with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who engage in these illegal activities are vigorously investigated and brought to justice,” stated Special Agent in Charge, Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot. “The sentence today is a vital element in maintaining public confidence that the individuals and others who commit similar crimes will be held accountable.”
“I am proud to have been involved with these fine officers and the United States Attorney’s Office in bringing these defendants to justice. I believe this sends the message to all of the other houses of prostitution in this area that we will not tolerate the ongoing exploitation of disadvantaged people for the profit of a few,” said Rebecca Grist, Bibb County Solicitor-General.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said, “This case shows the wide geographic reach of these type offenses. Partnerships with federal authorities help our local agencies to make much more effective arrests and prosecutions.”
This case was prosecuted by former Assistant United States Attorney Verda Colvin and Criminal Division Chief Michael T. Solis of the United States Attorney’s Office.
Questions regarding this matter should be directed to Karen Moore of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia (478/621-2606; firstname.lastname@example.org).