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Press Release

Third Defendant in Williamsburg and Virginia Beach Money Laundering and Prostitution Massage Parlor Scheme Sentenced

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

NORFOLK, Va. – A Norfolk man was sentenced today to 37 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

According to court documents, from approximately January 2021, through May 4, 2022, Ye Wang, 32, along with his co-defendants Si Liu, 36, and Yang Gao, 33, also of Norfolk, conspired to move and conceal proceeds obtained through prostitution. During the conspiracy, Gao, Wang, and Liu worked as operators or managers of illicit, unregistered massage parlors located in Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, which derived revenue from the prostitution of female employees. Women were recruited online to work for the defendants, and in turn performed sex acts for customers in the massage parlors in exchange for cash payments.

Gao managed the day-to-day operations of the massage parlors, including collecting money obtained via commercial sex. Gao also provided transportation to women engaged in commercial sex and maintained the facilities, unlicensed massage parlors, utilized for commercial sex. Wang assisted Gao in the operation of the illicit commercial sex business. 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.

Gao, Wang, and Liu split the prostitution proceeds with the women engaged in prostitution. Gao, Wang and Liu traveled to the massage parlors located in Virginia Beach and Williamsburg to collect prostitution proceeds, and then deposited a percentage of profits into various bank accounts. Money was then transferred to other members of the larger enterprise through cash deliveries and via mobile banking. A combined total of $696,706.65 was laundered during the conspiracy.

Pursuant to the plea agreements the defendants agreed to forfeit four vehicles, over $130,000 in US Currency, numerous items of jewelry, a gold bar, and three personal residences, with a combined value totaling over $1,000,000.

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

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Derek W. Gordon, Acting Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C.; Paul Neudigate, Chief of Virginia Beach Police; and Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Megan Montoya and Matthew Heck prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:22-cr-108.

Updated December 1, 2023

Financial Fraud