The former operator of an Emeryville massage parlor has been sentenced in Alameda County Superior Court to 10 years in prison for his role in a sex trafficking ring operated out of the facility.
Jimmy Gong Lee, 55, the co-owner of the now-defunct Acucare Oriental Massage, was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Paul Delucchi in Oakland, according to Kristin Ford, a spokeswoman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Lawyers from Harris's office prosecuted the case.
Delucchi also ordered Lee to pay $33,861 in restitution.
Lee pleaded guilty on May 22 to six felonies, including one count of pandering, or procuring prostitutes; two counts of bribery; and three counts of tax fraud.
Lee was one of four people arrested in December on charges of participating in the ring, which Harris said used vulnerable young Asian women for commercial sex.
A business associate, Tom Loi, also known as Tom Kim Loi Lam, 59, pleaded guilty on May 22 to the same six counts and will be sentenced in October.
Charges remain pending against Rong Liu, 37, the co-owner of the business and Wei Kuang, 59.
A criminal complaint filed by state prosecutors in Alameda County Superior Court in December described Liu as the co-owner of the business, who allegedly facilitated the rotation of young women used as prostitutes. The massage parlor made as many as five young women available at a time to work as prostitutes and replaced them every two weeks, the complaint said.
Kuang is described in the complaint as the front desk manager, who allegedly buzzed customers in, monitored security cameras, provided the women with condoms and collected cash.
The complaint said Loi paid an undercover Emeryville police captain who was posing as a corrupt officer a total of $24,000 in bribes to allow the ring to keep operating in 2013 and 2014.
Harris said of Lee's sentencing on Thursday, "The defendant sold young, vulnerable women as commodities.
"This sentence brings a perpetrator of this heinous crime to justice, and sends a clear message that sex traffickers will be swiftly prosecuted," Harris said in a statement.
Lee and Liu also recently pleaded guilty in a separate but related bribery case in federal court in San Francisco.
Lee pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Vincent Chhabria on June 23 to one count of conspiring to bribe the Emeryville captain posing as a corrupt officer and one count of giving a bribe. He will be sentenced on Sept. 8.
Loi pleaded guilty on July 7 to those same two counts and to a third count of bribing an undercover Homeland Security Department investigator posing as corrupt federal agent a total of $80,000 to issue falsified legal permanent resident cards. He will be sentenced by Chhabria on Oct. 20.
In an additional federal drug case, Lee pleaded guilty before Chhabria on June 23 to one count of conspiracy to cultivate marijuana and one count of cultivation of marijuana. He will be sentenced on Sept. 8, at the same time as the bribery sentencing.