The reputed "front man" for gang attacks on the homes of three Asian families in Fairfax County pleaded guilty yesterday to 16 charges.

Xuan Duc Ho, 21, was arrested June 19 in the attacks that occurred in January, February and March.

Ho was charged in Fairfax County Circuit Court with eight counts of robbery, two counts of burglary, four counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony and two counts of abduction. He faces a sentence of life in prison plus 110 years, according to a plea agreement.

Prosecutors said Ho was cooperating in cases against other gang members involved in the attacks. Ho was described yesterday in court as the "front man" who gained entry into the homes and subdued the people inside to make way for other gang members.

In each of the incidents, Ho carried a 9mm handgun. Nine other people allegedly involved were arrested in Chicago, New York and Richmond, police said.

Police said there have been eight home invasions in Fairfax County this year, attacks often carefully planned by loose-knit groups roaming across the country, usually picking prominent business people in Vietnamese communities as their victims.

Most of the attacks occur in occupied homes, police say, because the gang members want to frighten the victims into revealing where their valuables are hidden.

Police say Asian families are the prey because they are thought to keep valuables hidden in their homes. They say Asian families often are reluctant to report such attacks to police.

Investigator C.W. Farrell testified yesterday that the first incident in which Ho was charged occurred Jan. 23 in the 7200 block of Tanager Street. A resident heard a knock on the door. When he answered, he didn't see anyone, but four or five men rushed in and knocked him down.

The man was tied up with cords cut from electrical appliances. A woman and three children, ages 6, 5 and 2, in the house were forced into the living room, where the woman also was tied.

A few minutes later, Farrell testified, a man who lived in the house pulled up in the driveway, and when he saw what was happening he ran. Farrell said the second man was pistol-whipped and forced into the house.

"Shots were fired at him," Farrell said. "They said they would kill him and they wanted the money."

Farrell said about $12,000 in jewelry and money were taken from the house during the hour-long attack.

The next attack occurred on Feb. 24 in the 7600 of block of Trail Run Road in Falls Church. Farrell testified that a woman, at home with three children, heard a knock at her door. When she answered it, she did not see anyone at first, but three or four armed men pushed their way in.

The woman was knocked to the ground and tied with appliance cords. Three other adults who entered the house were bound and gagged and placed in the living room. At least one child also was present.

"One of them took a kitchen knife and started stroking the blade across the 9-year-old's throat," Farrell said, intimidating the adults into revealing where the money and jewelry were hidden.

Farrell said another man entered the house. The man was choked, and one of the attackers placed a gun to the man's head and began pulling the trigger. An 11-year-old girl was thrown on the bed and shots were fired at her, Farrell said.

Farrell said about $50,000 in jewelry and money were taken from the house.

The next incident occurred March 19 in the 4700 block of Farndon Court. A woman, who had just sent her 8-year-old child off to school, was cleaning when two men broke in and knocked her to the floor. A 22-year-old daughter sleeping upstairs was bound with cords. The attackers threated to rape the daughter unless her mother revealed where valuables were hidden.

Farrell said $138,000 in jewelry and money was taken from the house.

Farrell said that in each incident, Ho was not directly involved in hitting or shooting at the victims.