Thursday, February 29, 2024

Third Defendant Sentenced in Massage Parlor Money Laundering, Prostitution Ring

(Courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice Eastern District of Virginia)

NORFOLK — A Norfolk man was sentenced Friday to 37 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

Ye Wang, 32, of Norfolk, is the third to be sentenced in connection with a money laundering and prostitution case involving unregistered massage parlors located in Virginia Beach and Williamsburg.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, from approximately January 2021, through May 4, 2022, Wang, along with co-defendants Si Liu, 36, Yang Gao, 33, also of Norfolk, conspired to move and conceal proceeds obtained through prostitution.

During the conspiracy, officials said the trio worked as operators or managers of the massage parlors, which derived revenue from the prostitution of female employees. Women were recruited online to work for the defendants, officials added, and performed sex acts for customers in the parlors in exchange for cash payments.

Gao managed the day-to-day operations of the massage parlors, according to officials, including collecting money, providing transportation to women engaged in commercial sex and maintaining the unlicensed facilities.

Wang assisted Gao in the operation of the business, and Liu “helped facilitate the exploitation of women engaged in commercial sex, collected proceeds from the illegal activity, managed the web-based advertising of the illicit massage parlors, and encouraged women to perform sex acts by providing condoms and offering financial incentives,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Gao, Wang, and Liu split the prostitution proceeds with the women, and traveled to the massage parlors, located in Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, to collect proceeds. A percentage of profits was then deposited into various bank accounts, the office said, and money was then transferred to other members of the larger enterprise through cash deliveries and mobile banking.

A combined total of $696,706.65 was laundered during the conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In exchange for pleading guilty to money laundering, all other charges were dropped. Under the plea agreements, the defendants agreed to forfeit four vehicles, more than $130 thousand in U.S. currency, numerous items of jewelry, a gold bar, and three personal residences, with a combined value totaling over $1 million, officials said.

Liu and Gao were earlier sentenced in August to 30 months and 48 months, respectively.

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