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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


MATT J. WHITWORTH


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


OCTOBER 13, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


TWO OWNERS/OPERATORS OF ASIAN MASSAGE PARLORS

SENTENCED FOR COERCING PROSTITUTION,

MONEY LAUNDERING


FORFEIT MORE THAN $500,000 FROM PROSTITUTION


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two owners and operators of Asian massage parlors in Johnson County, Kan., were sentenced in federal court today for coercing their employees, whom they recruited from China, to engage in prostitution.


            Zhong Yan Liu, also known as “Lucky,” 37, and Cheng Tang, also known as “Tom,” 23, both citizens of China residing in Overland Park, were each sentenced by U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan to five years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Liu, and Tang to forfeit to the government $452,500, which represented the proceeds of the unlawful activity, as well as $60,497 that was seized by the FBI during the execution of federal search warrants at the defendants’ residences and businesses. Liu and Tang are subject to deportation upon the completion of their sentences.


            Co-defendant Ling Xu, also known as “Cherry,” 48, also a citizen of China residing in Overland Park, will be sentenced on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009. Each of the defendants pleaded guilty to coercing persons to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution and illegal sexual services. They also pleaded guilty to money laundering by wiring more than $500,000 from the proceeds of that unlawful activity to China. Xu also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft for using the passports and identification of her female workers in order to make most of those wire transfers. All three defendants remain in federal custody.


            Xu and Liu are married to other persons, with whom they have limited contact, and were living together with Xu’s son, Tang. Xu, Liu and Tang were involved in operating China Rose Massage and China Villa Massage/Lin Dynasty in Overland Park and, at the time charges were filed, were preparing to open Victoria Square in Overland Park and a new location in Wichita, Kan. They also operated a nearby residence that was utilized for prostitution. Xu was the head of these businesses, as the lead owner and operator. Xu also employed and paid Liu and Tang for their work and assistance in the commission of the offenses.


            Xu, Liu and Tang recruited female Asians to travel to the Kansas City area to work as masseuses. They facilitated the women’s travel, including, but not limited to, booking and purchasing the flights for the women. They would fly the women in to the Kansas City, Mo., International Airport and then transport or have them transported to the businesses. Xu and Tang signed massage therapy license applications, as the manager of the businesses, for the females to obtain massage therapy licenses with the city of Overland Park.


            Xu, Liu and Tang worked the female Asians from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. The female workers, who were not paid, lived inside the massage parlors, where they performed sexual services on male patrons in exchange for money. Xu, Liu and Tang also utilized a nearby apartment, within walking distance of one of the massage parlors, to have the female Asian workers provide extended sexual services to some of the male patrons. Xu, Liu and Tang operated surveillance cameras inside the massage parlors to monitor the female Asian workers.


            Xu, Liu and Tang used businesses, such as 888 Market and Ho’s Oriental Market, to wire at least $452,500 in proceeds from the prostitution businesses, via Western Union, to several locations in China. Xu wired at least $343,600 in this manner from 2005 to 2006. Of this amount, Xu wired $318,600 by illegally taking and using her female workers’ passports and identification. Liu wired at least $74,500 and Tang wired at least $34,400.


            Co-defendant Hongmei Madole, also known as Hongmei Zhou, 33, of Olathe, Kan., pleaded guilty to coercing persons to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution and illegal sexual services. Madole, the owner of Asian Touch Massage in Olathe, was sentenced on April 7, 2009, to two years and nine months in federal prison without parole.


            In a separate case resulting from this investigation, the owner of two Johnson County massage parlors has pleaded guilty to inducing women to travel across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. Wei Li Pang, also known as Linda, 39, a Chinese national with permanent resident alien status residing in Overland Park, will be sentenced on Oct. 26, 2009. Pang was the co-owner and operator of Asian Massage Health Center in Olathe, Kan., and the owner and operator of Oriental Massage in Mission, Kan.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Overland Park, Kan., Police Department, the Independence, Mo., Police Department and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html