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SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — Five people have been charged with operating a lucrative prostitution network that stocked brothels in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland with illegal immigrants from Asia, authorities announced Tuesday.

A federal indictment unsealed in Scranton said women from China, Korea, Taiwan and other Asian nations worked in massage parlors and motel rooms, earning hundreds of thousands for ringleaders who laundered some of the money by purchasing expensive watches and cars.

It was a “criminal organization that operated numerous businesses as a cover for their prostitution network, all in an effort to make a buck,” John Kelleghan, a Philadelphia-based U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent, said at a news conference in Scranton.

“We have successfully carved out the infectious and nefarious activities these businesses brought to the communities in which they were located,” he added.

None of the prostitutes were juveniles, nor were they held against their will, authorities said. Federal immigration officials have detained a dozen women pending further investigation.

U.S. Attorney Peter Smith declined to reveal on Tuesday how they were recruited or how much money the prostitution ring took in. But a six-count racketeering indictment seeks the forfeiture of about $700,000, including more than $320,000 in cash, a 2011 BMW 550i, a Rolex watch and two 3-D televisions. Smith said the amount that authorities are seeking through forfeiture could go higher.

The indictment said that customers paid a “door charge” of $50 per half-hour or $60 per hour, all of which went to the ringleaders. The prostitutes derived their income from tips. They worked one or two weeks at one location before being moved to another location as the ring tried to avoid detection by law enforcement, the indictment said.

The network used massage parlors and spas in Tannersville, Bartonsville, Plains and Moosic, all in Pennsylvania, and one in Overlea, Md. Various motels in Pennsylvania and New Jersey were also used, according to court documents.

Smith identified Lih Kang “Michael” Shen, 46, of Stroudsburg, as the leader of the prostitution ring. Shen’s attorney did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

The other defendants are John Vincent Ferraro, 45, of Bartonsville; Young Ja “Micky” Youn, 45, of Stroudsburg; Yu Cheng “Ricky” Lee, 35, of Tannersville; and Chin Hsia “Judy” Chen, 56, of New York City. Attorneys for Ferraro, Youn and Lee did not immediately return phone messages. It’s not clear if Chen has a lawyer.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (11)
  1. steve says:

    Apparently these were all consenting adults. Why should we keep someone in prison for 70 years for consenting adult prostitution? How many murderers, rapists, drug dealers, and terrorists must we release early to keep them there?

  2. jim says:

    absolutely Steve, legalize it, regulate it and TAX it!

  3. Doug says:

    Legalize prostitution ,for adults of age.
    It would be safer all the way around,
    eliminate the criminal aspect of being a sex worker,
    and bring in Billions in revenue nationwide.

  4. Gwen says:

    Just what kind of comment I would expect from a man. The kind of woman who would prostitute herself mostly always does so because of low self esteem, sexual abuse, or desperation. And men try to profit from it or us them.

    1. sheriff says:

      Hey Gwen, it’s a woman’s choice. It’s ok to use sex for favors & charge men for it everyday but when the men organize it the little dears cry foul. Must have been a bad blow-job that someone didn’t get. Gwen, jump in & show em how it’s done toot’s.

  5. FedUpWithAmerica says:

    Why detain the illegals ? lets give them a job, welfare and now, a college education !!!!!! yay for maryland !! makes me sick !

  6. ANGEL says:

    if the government was smart they would legalize and tax alot of things instead we are investing out tax dollars for them to sit in jails.. where they are able to get a free education and good meals… sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do to make money, i say legalize the drugs too and tax them but keep the murders and rapist locked up or give em the chair!
    Sorry Gwen i agree with the Men on this one, not all men are out to make a profit if the government legalized the things I mentioned and taxed them, well that’s money toward the nations debt, they do it in Amsterdam

    1. sheriff says:

      Angel, Amsterdam is having one helluva a problem with drugs & prostitution & along with it a serious health problem all because of the very liberal ways it has held in the past. They have already cancelled the so called “Free drug” zones for whack job transient bums who have HIV & other STD’s’

  7. sheriff says:

    We just let a guy out on bail to the tune of $5k after killing three people in a car. Yet we want to fine a few a…holes a couple million dollars, take their car, rolex & give them twenty years & the car killer will most likely get around ten.

  8. PAUL E. MICELLI says:


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