The Washington Post

Va. ‘room salon’ operators sentenced

A federal judge in Alexandria sentenced the owner and the madame of a room salon in Falls Church Friday for their role in bringing young Korean women into their business to dress provocatively, serve drinks, flirt, sing, and dance with customers.

U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga sentenced Sang Bun Surh, 52, and Young Mi Kim, 41, to 30 months and 16 months in prison, respectively. The two were also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $2 million in illegal proceeds.

According to court documents, the two operated a karaoke bar known as “High Society” – also called “Tomato” and “Tomato Garden.” Customers at the club were required to buy at least one bottle of liquor, which would typically cost $300. The Korean hostesses would serve drinks to and then drink, flirt, sing and dance with the customers.

Surh, who was also known as “Chung Madame,” was the owner of the bar and was involved in the recruitment of the female hostesses, some directly recruited from South Korea, while Kim was the primary “madame” and decided which room each hostess would serve each night, authorities said.

In their plea agreement, the two admitted that dozens of female employees were illegal aliens from South Korea. The servers were paid about $50 a night. Since 2007, the defendants said the salon earned over $4 million.

Surh and Kim pleaded guilty in December. They were charged with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and to inducing illegal aliens to reside in the U.S. for commercial advantage and private financial gain. Kim also pled guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud for her own fraudulent marriage to a U.S. citizen.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, whose office is prosecuting the case, said “We bring these cases to hold employers accountable and ensure that they abide by laws designed to protect both foreign and domestic workers and the citizens of the U.S.”

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.


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