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Woman gets 1.5 years for running brothels

An agent said the case led to the breakup of one of the Southland's most lucrative prostitution schemes.

October 21, 2008|Associated Press

SANTA ANA — A West Covina woman who ran secret brothels out of spas, chiropractors' offices and other businesses was sentenced Monday to 1 1/2 years in federal prison.

Jong Ock "June" Mao, 50, was also ordered in federal court to forfeit her interest in more than $10 million worth of property.

Mao, a native of Korea, pleaded guilty in August to conspiring to use interstate commerce to promote prostitution and using brothel proceeds to buy real estate.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Carmen Luege said Mao operated several businesses -- five in Southern California and one in Dallas -- that claimed to offer massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic services and tanning but actually offered sexual services.

Robert Schoch, an agent for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles, said the case led to the breakup of one of the most lucrative prostitution schemes ever uncovered in Southern California.

"Given the huge profits generated by this illegal enterprise, it is fitting that this defendant is paying a high price for her crimes," Schoch said.

In April 2006, Mao and three other defendants were indicted for their role in the scheme. Two pleaded guilty in August 2007 and await sentencing.

The remaining defendant, Edward Lutt, 45, of Paramount, is accused of overseeing the day-to-day operation of the brothels.

He is in custody until his Feb. 24 trial.

Mao will also have to forfeit her interest in four private motocross tracks in California, Texas and Florida that are operated by her company, MX Oasis.

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