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October 15, 09

NEWS / Leader of Asian Massage Parlor Scheme Sentenced for Coercing Prostitution, Money Laundering, Identit


Leader of Criminal Scheme Must Forfeit More Than $500,000

KANSAS CITY, MO—Matt J. Whitworth, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the owner and operator of Asian massage parlors in Johnson County, Kan., was sentenced in federal court today for leading and organizing a criminal scheme to coerce her employees, whom she recruited from China, to engage in prostitution.

Ling Xu, also known as “Cherry,” 48, a citizen of China residing in Overland Park, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan to eight years and two months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Xu to forfeit to the government $452,500, which represented the proceeds of the unlawful activity, as well as $60,497 that was seized by the FBI during the execution of federal search warrants. Xu is subject to deportation upon the completion of her sentence.

“This defendant was the leader of a criminal scheme that used fraud and coercion to victimize her Chinese employees for prostitution,” Whitworth said. “Xu laundered the profits of her scheme by stealing her workers’ identification documents in order to wire hundreds of thousands of dollars of untaxed income to China. Those businesses have been shut down and the owners and operators have been sentenced to prison.”

Xu is the final defendant to be sentenced in this case. Co-defendants Zhong Yan Liu, also known as “Lucky,” 37, and Cheng Tang, also known as “Tom,” 23, both citizens of China residing in Overland Park, were each sentenced yesterday to five years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered! Liu and Tang, who are also subject to deportation upon the completion of their sentences, to forfeit more than $500,000 to the government.

Each of the defendants pleaded guilty to coercing persons to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution and illegal sexual services. They also pleaded guilty to money laundering by wiring more than $500,000 from the proceeds of that unlawful activity to China. Xu also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft for using the passports and identification of her female workers in order to make most of those wire transfers.

After Xu was arrested, she discussed plans to have any worker who testified against them killed. Xu stated that she was going to have Liu kill a female worker and her family for $5,000 upon his release (she did not yet realize they would be held without bond).

Xu and Liu are married to other persons, with whom they have limited contact, and were living together with Xu’s son, Tang. Xu, Liu and Tang were involved in operating China Rose Massage and China Villa Massage/Lin Dynasty in Overland Park and, at the time charges were filed, were preparing to open Victoria Square in Overland Park and a new location in Wichita, Kan. They also operated a nearby residence that was utilized for prostitution. Xu was the head of these businesses, as the lead owner and operator. Xu also employed and paid Liu and Tang for their work and assistance in the commission of the offenses.

Xu, Liu and Tang recruited female Asians to travel to the Kansas City area to work as masseuses. They facilitated the women’s travel, including, but not limited to, booking and purchasing the flights for the women. They would fly the women in to the Kansas City, Mo., International Airport and then transport or have them transported to the businesses.! Xu and Tang signed massage therapy license applications, as the manager of the businesses, for the females to obtain massage therapy licenses with the city of Overland Park.

Xu, Liu and Tang worked the female Asians from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. The female workers, who were not paid, lived inside the massage parlors and slept on top of the massage tables they used to perform sexual services on male patrons in exchange for money. Xu , Liu and Tang also utilized a nearby apartment, within walking distance of one of the massage parlors, to have the female Asian workers provide extended sexual services to some of the male patrons. Xu, Liu and! Tang operated surveillance cameras inside the massage parlors to monitor the female Asian workers and locked the massage parlors at night.

Xu, Liu and Tang used businesses, such as 888 Market and Ho’s Oriental Market, to wire at least $452,500 in proceeds from the prostitution businesses, via Western Union, to several locations in China. Xu wired at least $343,600 in this manner from 2005 to 2007, primarily by using fake identification documents and illegally taking and using her female workers’ passports and identification.

When the search warrants were executed by law enforcement officers on her massage parlor, Xu locked herself in the bathroom and began flushing evidence down the toilet. Three law enforcement agents had to physically remove her from the toilet to stop the destruction. Officers salvaged as much as they could from the toilet stool and dried it. The documents included the Western Union receipts and ledgers used to document and maintain the profits made from the customers of the female workers.

Co-defendant Hongmei Madole, also known as Hongmei Zhou, 33, of Olathe, Kan., pleaded guilty to coercing persons to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution and illegal sexual services. Madole, the owner of Asian Touch Massage in Olathe, was sentenced on April 7, 2009, to two years and nine months in federal prison without parole.

In a separate case resulting from this investigation, the owner of two Johnson County massage parlors has pleaded guilty to inducing women to travel across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. Wei Li Pang, also known as Linda, 39, a Chinese national with permanent resident alien status residing in Overland Park, will be sentenced on Oct. 26, 2009. Pang was the co-owner and operator of Asian Massage Health Center in Olathe, Kan., and the owner and operator of Oriental Massage in Mission, Kan.

http://kansascity.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel09/kc101409.htm

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