Former Owner of Annandale Massage Parlor Pleads Guilty to Prostitution, Money Laundering Charges
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Susan Lee Gross, also known as “Ju Mee Lee Gross,” 46, originally from South Korea but now of Trinidad, Colo., pled guilty today to transporting women from other states to perform sexual services for patrons of her Annandale-based massage parlor.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; John P. Torres, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington, D.C.; Rick A. Raven, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Washington, D.C., Field Office; and John Wagner, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s (NCIS) Washington, D.C., Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Claude M. Hilton.
Lee Gross pled guilty to conspiracy to transport women to engage in prostitution, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 1, 2013.
“Peach Therapy was nothing but a front for a prostitution ring that recruited and transported women from several states, and the owner laundered the profits to conceal the illegal nature of her business,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “This conviction is the result of an ongoing investigation into the sale of sexual services at northern Virginia massage parlors as part of my office’s crackdown on sex trafficking in the region. We will continue to identify and prosecute criminal organizations operating illicit businesses in our community.”
“Lee Gross went to great lengths to facilitate her multi-state prostitution ring; she had women transported to Peach Therapy in Annandale from various areas such New York and New Jersey, and then she laundered the illicit profits earned by her criminal enterprise to hide her tracks,” said HSI SAC Torres. “HSI is dedicated to working with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations operating in our communities.”
“Crimes of this magnitude are not victimless but rather a blight on any community, harming the citizens within it,” said IRS SAC Raven. “Lee Gross’s conspiring to conceal Peach Therapy’s illegal proceeds contributed to damaging the overall economic strength of our country. IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to investigate individuals and entities whose underlying conduct revolves around illegal source income which ultimately threatens our nation’s voluntary tax compliance system.”
“Combating and reducing human-trafficking-related crimes is a strategic imperative for the Department of Defense and the US government,” said NCIS SAC Wagner. “This case demonstrates the effectiveness of law enforcement partnerships when conducting joint investigations.”
In a statement of facts filed with her plea agreement, Lee Gross admitted that from February 2011 to May 2012 she was the owner of “Peach Therapy,” a massage parlor located in Annandale, Va., that provided sexual services to customers. These services included everything from masturbation of customers to sexual intercourse. Customers would pay a “house fee” of $60 to $80, plus tips that ranged from $20 to $400 for various sex acts. Gross kept a portion of the house fee and whatever tips she earned herself, while the workers kept their own tips and received a portion of the house fee. To hide the unlawful nature of the business, Lee Gross laundered the proceeds of the prostitution activities by depositing funds in various bank accounts and a safe deposit box. As part of her plea agreement, Lee Gross agreed to the entry of a personal money judgment of $248,409, which represents proceeds derived from the conspiracy to transport women for prostitution.
The women who worked at Peach Therapy generally were from South Korea and some travelled to work at massage parlors in various states. Lee Gross induced a number of the women to travel to Virginia from New York and New Jersey, among other places, for the purposes of working as prostitutes at Peach Therapy. Lee Gross advertised Peach Therapy on Craigslist.com, Backpage.com, EroticMP.com, USASexGuide.com, and RubMaps.com. Most of the customers interviewed by federal agents were married, and customers of Peach Therapy included military personnel, a local pastor and a gynecologist.
This case was investigated by HSI, which participates in the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force, and IRS-CI and NCIS. They were assisted in the investigation by the Fairfax County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Frank is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
Founded in 2004, the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force is a collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies – along with nongovernmental organizations – dedicated to combating human trafficking and related crimes. From FY2011 to the present, 41 defendants have been prosecuted in 23 cases in the Eastern District of Virginia for human trafficking and trafficking-related conduct involving at least 32 victims.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.