Eleven Queens residents were among 19 people indicted last week for their alleged connection to a prostitution-based money laundering operation.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly announced the indictments last Tuesday, saying they are the result of a 16-month investigation that focused on an advertising firm that placed ads for prostitution services in print and online publications in New York City.
Schneiderman, in a statement issued by his office, said the 180-count indictment includes claims of money laundereing, falsifying business records, narcotics sales and prostitution.
Two women who are the alleged victims of sex trafficking were found during the execution of warrants and are being kept safehouses.
“The investigation led to the arrest of multiple individuals who were part of a criminal enterprise that made millions of dollars by profiting off the exploitation of women,” Schneiderman said. “The message we are sending is clear: these crimes will not be tolerated in New York State.”
In a joint statement, Schneiderman and Kelly cited by name examples of publications that ran prostitution ads from Somad Enterprises, which they said “created, monitored, facilitated and employed online (on Backpage.com, for example) and print (in "The Village Voice," for example) advertisements and cable television commercials to knowingly and systematically promote prostitution for its clients’ large- and small-scale prostitution businesses ...”
“All anyone needs to do is open the a copy of the Village Voice to get a good sense of how classified advertising and prostitution go hand in hand, particularly in the prostituton of Asian women,” Kelly said. He added that their focus is and will continue to be the profiteers engaged in promoting prostitution as well as the johns.
“Not the women exploited by them,” Kelly said.
Queens residents named in the indictment include Christopher Fairbairn, 24, of Forest Hills; Ying Lla, 48, of Bayside, Jay King, 52, of Whitestone; Woo Yang, 60, of Oakland gardens; Wei Qu, 51, of Flushing; Juan Hue Niu, 40, of Flushing; Woosub Kim, 46, of Flushing Meadows; Sun T. Fink, 61 of Flushing; Melanie Reyes, 27, of Jamaica, Si In Kang, 58, Flushing; and Jacob Kim, 36, of Flushing.
Others include Xiao Jing Qiao, 25, of Brooklyn; Nilagros Katz, 50, of Jersey City; Sean Bagdonas, 37, of Lake Ariel, Penn.; Victor Concepcion, 45, of Caivta, Rizal, Philippines; Arlene Meyers, 67, of Hendersonville, NC; No Mi Kwon, 49, of Palisades Park, NJ; Fannie Hubbard, 23, of Yonkers; and Rensuhn Kang, 53, whose residence was listed only as New York.
Schneiderman’s statement said all face up to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.
The ongoing investigation was initiated by the AG’s Organized Crime Task Force and the Vice Enforcement Major Case team of the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau.
The state alleges that Somad Enterprises, Inc. operated as an ad agency out of a W. 25th Street address in Manhattan and "remote locations" in Queens, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Philippines.
The complaint alleges that Soman used numerous shell companies created with false information in order to process millions of dollars worth of credit card transactions which hid the true nature of the charges by claiming the services provided included cleaning, acupuncture, antiques and party planning rather than sex or in some cases drugs.
A review of Somad’s financial documents between January 2010 and October 2012 allegedly shows that prostitution businesses paid Somad more than $3 million to promote them.