Also Admits Facilitating a 16 Year Old Girl to Engage in Prostitution
Baltimore, Maryland –Richard Ho Lee, age 32, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to receipt of child pornography.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; Commissioner Anthony W. Batts of the Baltimore Police Department; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein .
According to Lee’s plea agreement, on five occasions in September and October of 2011, while Lee and the victim were in Baltimore, Lee purchased sex from T.F. At the time, T.F. was representing to patrons that she was 19 when, in fact, she was 16. On October 31, 2011, Lee paid for a bus ticket for T.F. to travel to Panama City, Florida, where Lee met her. Lee took the victim to a condo he had rented in Panama City. Upon arriving in Panama City, T.F. told Lee that she was only 16 years old. According to the statement of facts, Lee continued to have sex with T.F., and encouraged her to engage in prostitution. From about December 22, 2011 to January 4, 2012, Lee placed at least 15 advertisements for the victim in the “escorts” and “body rubs” sections of an adult website. Lee used his personal credit card to pay for the advertisements. Lee took provocative photographs of T.F. in lingerie and underwear that he had purchased for her and attached some of the photos to the advertisements. Lee rented a second condominium where T.F. had sex with customers and agreed to provide Lee with a percentage of her earnings.
On January 9, 2012, Lee purchased a bus ticket for T.F., which she used to travel from Florida back to Maryland. In January 2012, Lee produced a counterfeit North Dakota state driver’s license for T.F., which indicated that she was 22 years old. In May 2012, Lee took provocative photographs of T.F. inside his residence in Baltimore.
In June 2012, federal agents recovered Lee’s laptop computers and an external hard drive which contained over 600 images of child pornography, including images that depicted minors that are less than twelve years old and portrayed sadistic and masochistic conduct. Further, the laptop contained templates designed to be used for the production of counterfeit state driver’s licenses.
As part of his plea agreement, Lee must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
Lee and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Lee will be sentenced to between five and 11 years in prison, followed by supervised release of between five and 11 years. As part of his plea agreement, Lee is required to forfeit property that was used or intended to be used to commit or to promote the commission of the offenses to which Lee has pleaded guilty. The property to be forfeited includes Lee’s home in the 600 block of South Wolf Street in Baltimore, two laptop computers and an external hard drive. District Judge J. Frederick Motz has scheduled sentencing for March 20, 2015, at 11:00 a.m.
The case was investigated by the FBI-led Maryland Child Exploitation Task Force (MCETF), created in 2010 to combat child prostitution, with members from10 state and federal law enforcement agencies. The Task Force coordinates with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Maryland State Police Child Recovery Unit to identify missing children being advertised online for prostitution.
MCETF partners with the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders. Members include federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers and local community members. For more information about the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/priorities_human.html.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, Baltimore County Police Department, Baltimore City Police Department and the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Crooks, who is prosecuting the case.