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Press Release

Woodland Hills Man Found Guilty of Extorting Koreatown Businesses and Carjacking One Victim in Karaoke Shakedown

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A San Fernando Valley man was found guilty by a jury today of dozens of felonies for extorting Koreatown karaoke companies and sometimes violently attacking victims who refused to pay, including carjacking one of them after beating him with a baseball bat.

Daekun Cho, 39, of Woodland Hills, was found guilty of 55 counts of interference with commerce by extortion, one count of attempted interference with commerce by extortion, and one count of carjacking.

According to evidence presented at a five-day trial, from at least November 2020 to March 2023, Cho demanded “protection” money from karaoke businesses in Koreatown, as well as from drivers of “doumis” – or hostesses – employed by patrons of the karaoke establishments.

Cho extorted money in person and on Venmo monthly from victims who operated companies or drove people to and from karaoke bars in Koreatown in Los Angeles. He physically attacked, threatened, and instilled fear in his victims to induce them to pay him. Payments, which Cho called “protection fees,” typically ranged from $100 to $1,000 per month.

“This defendant carried out his shakedown operation for years by preying on an immigrant community and intimidating his victims into silence,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “Today’s verdict sends a message that we are focused on rooting out violent actors and holding them accountable for their actions.”

For example, in May 2021, when one of Cho’s victims – a doumi driver – refused to pay him more money, Cho and his accomplice beat the victim with baseball bats until knocking him unconscious and then stole his minivan. The victim suffered a broken arm and multiple cuts and bruises. In response, the victim and his business partner closed their karaoke driving company, and the business partner left California.

During a separate incident in July 2022, a different victim was dropping two doumis off at a karaoke bar in Koreatown when Cho – who appeared to have something in his hoodie pocket – approached the victim’s car, opened the door with his sleeve so as to not leave fingerprints, got halfway inside the vehicle, and told the victim that the victim’s company was not permitted to drop off doumis. As the victim drove away, he heard gunshots, breaking the car’s glass, which hit a doumi in the neck.

In January 2023, Cho assaulted another karaoke driver who for years had paid him in cash and then via Venmo a monthly extortion fee. Cho began accepting electronic extortion payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the victim stopped paying, Cho assaulted the victim, stole $1,000 from him, and threatened to kill him.

“Today’s verdict should send a strong message to those willing to use violence and threats of violence to intimidate Los Angeles communities,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang. “HSI Los Angeles and our partners will not tolerate this egregious activity and will work diligently to ensure that dangers to society will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

United States District Judge Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha scheduled an August 16 sentencing hearing, at which time Cho will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each extortion-related count and up to 25 years in prison for the carjacking count.

Homeland Security Investigations and the Los Angeles Police Department investigated this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jena A. MacCabe and Kevin J. Butler of the Violent and Organized Crime Section are prosecuting this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated March 26, 2024

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-065