2 held in Emeryville brothel case get indicted by feds
By Henry K. Lee Updated 10:22 pm, Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Two men charged in state court with exploiting women in a sex trafficking ring in Emeryville and bribing a police captain posing as a corrupt officer were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on bribery charges, court records show.
The investigation centered on Acucare Oriental Massage at 3900 Adeline St., which authorities said operated as a brothel, with young women of Asian descent used for sex and then replaced every two weeks.
Co-owners Jimmy Gong Lee, 55, and Tom Loi, 58, were charged in U.S. District Court in San Francisco with conspiracy to give bribes involving a federal program, giving bribes involving a federal program and bribery of a public official.
Lee and Loi were named in a complaint filed this month in Alameda County Superior Court with 30 felony charges, including conspiracy, pimping, pandering, bribery, tax fraud and bribery.
Federal court records revealed that the investigation began in 2012 when agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Emeryville police began investigating Acucare — and that Homeland Security agents posed as Emeryville code enforcement officers.
Authorities said men would be buzzed in to enter the business, pay about $60 to Kuang, and then select a “masseuse” from a group of usually five women. The women would then negotiate further fees for sexual services, investigators said. Confidential informants working on behalf of Emeryville police posed as customers and were quoted prices for the services in conversation that were secretly recorded, authorities said.
When Emeryville authorities began questioning the legitimacy of the business, Lee allegedly gave Loi thousands of dollars to pay off Emeryville police Capt. Dante Diotalevi, head of investigations, who was working undercover as a corrupt police officer.
In a series of recorded meetings between March 2013 and May 2014, Loi gave the captain a total of $24,000 in bribes — about $2,000 a month — so that Acucare wouldn’t be shuttered, authorities said.
Lam also paid a Homeland Security agent posing as a corrupt immigration officer tens of thousands of dollars to illegally process four Chinese nationals for green cards, authorities said.
On June 5, state Department of Justice and Homeland Security agents served search warrants at the brothel and Lee’s home in San Francisco. They reported recovering $69,000 in cash.