A Boston Police SUV.
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A network of “sophisticated” high-end brothels in the Boston area and eastern Virginia offered paid sex to “elected officials, high-tech and pharmaceutical executives, doctors, military officers, government contractors with security clearances, professors” and others, too at the federal level, prosecutors said Wednesday.
“Take your pick, they are probably represented in this case,” Joshua Levy, acting U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, said at a news conference announcing the arrests of three people in connection with the operation of the expensive sex shops.
Levy’s office said the brothels required “interested sex buyers” to provide employer information and references before booking sessions with prostitutes.
According to Levy’s office, the brothels charged customers about $350 to “more than $600 per hour, depending on the services, and were paid in cash.”
The appointments with sex workers allegedly took place in “high-end apartment complexes” where rent was up to $5,600, authorities said.
Two websites advertising the services of prostitutes working in the brothels contained nude photos of women and their body measurements.
“Here to serve our wonderful Boston friends,” one of the websites read, according to an image seen by CNBC.
“Each website purportedly outlined a verification process that interested sex buyers had to go through in order to be considered for appointment bookings – including requiring customers to fill out a form providing their full name, email address,… phone number, their employer and their reference if they had one,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
At least five apartments rented by one of the defendants, California resident James Lee, were used as brothels.
In addition to James Lee, two Massachusetts residents were arrested in the case, Han “Hana” Lee, 41, and 30-year-old Junmyung Lee.
Each defendant was charged with conspiracy to coerce and entice people to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
“It is alleged that the defendants jointly developed the brothel infrastructure in several states, which they used to persuade, entice, and lure women – primarily Asian women – to travel to Massachusetts and Virginia to engage in prostitution to operate,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The brothels, which began operating around July 2020, were located in Cambridge and Watertown, Massachusetts, and in Fairfax and Tysons, Virginia.
The Virginia locations are near Washington, DC, in an area rich in federal contractors, many of whom have federal security clearances.
The Boston area is home to many pharmaceutical and technology companies, top financial services and law firms, and leading American universities.
In addition to politicians and military officers, business managers and government contractors, customers also included “lawyers, scientists and accountants”.
“The investigation into the involvement of sex buyers is active and ongoing,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
About 20 “sex buyers” were interviewed by investigators as part of a multi-year investigation into the network, according to an affidavit that supported the criminal complaint.
“I believe there may be hundreds of customers who have yet to be identified,” a Department of Homeland Security special agent wrote in that affidavit.
The agent did not name the customers known to have used the brothels’ services, but noted: “I do this not to protect their anonymity, but because our investigation into their involvement in prostitution.” are active and in progress.”
In a court filing later Wednesday requesting that 68-year-old James Lee be held without bail because he is a flight risk, prosecutors pointed to evidence that he rented the apartments used as brothels under his name and “at least two fraudulent identities.” had.
“Financial records indicate that James owns multiple businesses and corresponding business bank accounts in his name and in the name of his fraudulent identities, which I believe he uses to launder the proceeds of the prostitution business,” Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Zachary Mitlitsky wrote in a statement affidavit in support of this request for detention.
James Lee’s business accounts also list $550,633 in deposits in federal Covid-19 relief funds related to various companies controlled by him or by identities suspected of being him, the affidavit says.
The affidavit states that the Covid-19 relief funds may have been “fraudulently obtained.”
The complaint states that the investigation began in 2020 when a confidential source, awaiting sentencing in a then-pending federal criminal case, provided authorities with information about the brothel network.
The criminal complaint states that between December 2019 and October of this year, Han Lee “deposited nearly $795,000 cash into her personal bank accounts at Bank of America, while simultaneously depositing an additional approximately $109,000 cash for payments with her Bank of America account.” used a credit card.” Account that she regularly uses for travel purchases and other expenses related to brothel operations.”
During the same period, Junmyung, a student, “deposited nearly $194,000 cash into his personal Bank of America account while simultaneously using an additional $47,305 cash to make payments to his Bank of America credit card account,” the complaint states said.
Han Lee and Junmyung Lee were arrested Wednesday morning and are scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston later in the day.
James Lee was arrested in California, where he lives, and will appear in a Boston court at a later date.
Source : www.cnbc.com