Ringleader and Two Associates of Illicit Massage Parlor Operation Sentenced to Combined 6 Years in Prison
Thursday, April 20, 2023
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina
NEW BERN, N.C. – Three women from South Carolina, Virginia, and North Carolina were sentenced today to combined 72 months in prison for their management and involvement in an illicit massage parlor operation between August 2020 and June 2021. The leader of the organization, Ok Hwa Lee, 55, was sentenced to 34 months in prison. Shanyu Song, 50, and Xuejin Bai, 51, were sentenced to 26 and 12 months and 1 day, respectively. Additionally, Lee was ordered to forfeit $151,000; Song $146,000; and Bai $55,000. On November 10, 2022, Lee pled guilty to three counts, including one count of conspiracy and two counts of bribing a public official and Song pled guilty to conspiracy. On December 12, 2022, Bai pled guilty to one count of conspiracy.
According to court documents and other information presented in court, Lee, Song, and Bai were arrested as part of a broad undercover operation for attempting to bribe law enforcement officers to provide protection for their illicit massage parlors where sexual services were being offered in Cary, Durham, and Wilmington, North Carolina. During the investigation, an undercover HSI agent met with Lee, Song, Bai, and other individuals who provided more than $18,000 in bribes to the agent, believing that the bribes would provide protection from unwanted law enforcement inquiries at the various massage parlors. Song was Lee’s main accomplice within the organization and Bai was a part owner of two illicit massage parlors in Wilmington.
On June 16, 2021, HSI, with the assistance of numerous law enforcement agencies, led a coordinated takedown across four different federal districts that included the execution of search warrants at eight different massage parlors, multiple residences, and the arrest of six individuals, including Lee, Song, and Bai. Two other co-defendants, Ming Ji Cao and Ogbun Park, were previously sentenced, and the corresponding press release can be found here.