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Brothels in Boston, Virginia made ‘outstanding’ amount of money, investigators say

The person accused of running a sprawling brothel network in Boston and Virginia made an “outstanding” amount of money running the business over the last several years, concealing over $1 million in-part through “structured money orders,” a federal agent wrote in court documents filed Wednesday.

Prosecutors accused Han Lee, a 41-year-old Cambridge resident, of heading up a brothel network that catered to politicians, doctors, lawyers, and military officers in both states and had the infrastructure to “persuade, induce, and entice” women to travel across state lines for prostitution work.

Han Lee’s financial records detailing the illegal business were “impeccable,” a U.S. Department of Homeland Security agent wrote in court documents. Law enforcement said they found at least 16 cell phones, utility bills, a computer, and other documents inside Han Lee’s Cambridge apartment.

“From a shelf, investigators seized a Louis Vuitton shoe box which contained hundreds of money order receipts for both Western Union and United States Postal Service that appeared to be organized by date, location, and rent amount,” investigators wrote in court documents.

There were detailed ledgers detailing the daily activity of the brothels in Virginia and Boston, the latter of which prosecutors said were run by Junmyung Lee, a 30-year-old Dedham resident.

One ledger found in the apartment was found open to a page showing the stage names, appointment dates and times, and earnings of women, specifically to people who were then-listed on the Virginia brothel website, investigators said in court documents.

Both Han Lee and Junmyung Lee voluntarily agreed Wednesday to remain in custody while their case plays out in federal court, according to court records.

Investigators said the brothels were run as a cash business and the accused leaders took lengthy measures to conceal the money they made.

Brothel leaders deposited cash into their own accounts, spreading them out and later converting them into money orders “to make the funds appear more legitimate,” investigators said in court documents. They also used “third-party bank accounts” to receive deposits and conduct other financial transactions, according to authorities.

“The co-conspirators also engaged in ‘structuring,’ (intentionally splitting larger amounts of money into a series of smaller sums to avoid scrutiny from law enforcement or compliance obligations), both in the manner in which the co-conspirators made cash deposits into their own accounts, as well as the manner in which they converted cash into money orders, in order to avoid reporting requirements,” investigators said.

Investigators said Han Lee purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars of money orders from the United States Postal Service and Western Union “which she then used to pay for various expenses tied to the prostitution business.”

Han Lee had “lavish and extravagant” spending habits even though she lacked legitimate employment, investigators said. The Louis Vuitton shoe box that served as a filing cabinet for the brothel business had a $1,360 sticker price for the shoes, according to investigators.

“Investigators located luxury bags and shoes, including items from Yves St. Laurent, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, and Jimmy Choo. I am aware that Han’s bank records reflect purchases at other luxury stores, including Balenciaga,” DHS Special Agent Zachary Mitlitsky wrote in an affidavit.

During searches of cellphones carried by women working at the brothels, investigators said they found communications from Han Lee that laid out “house rules” for commercial sex workers at the brothels.

Those included turning on “the song while working,” being careful with cigarettes, not going outside “with heavy makeup,” and refraining from using “red lights or other colored lights in front of the door,” according to court documents filed by investigators.

“No matter how much I talk, there are guests who enter the building silently,” Han Lee is accused of writing in the “house rules.”

Source: Orange County Register

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