Feds Charge Five in Pennsylvania with Operating Prostitution Ring

In May, a federal grand jury indicted four men and one woman on racketeering charges, alleging they ran a prostitution ring under the guise of operating legitimate spas and massage parlors throughout Pennsylvania. The group is being charged with multiple racketeering charges including money laundering and conspiracy to induce women for the purposes of prostitution.

The women working for the enterprise were working voluntarily and were recruited from Taiwan, China, Korea and other countries within Asia. The complaint claims the women received only tips for their services while their recruiters pocketed the money earned through the spas and parlors.

The Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations Act

Racketeering charges are brought under a set of federal laws better known as the Racketeer and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). These laws prohibit the commission of more than one crime, including state offenses such as murder, arson, kidnapping, extortion, robbery, bribery, felony controlled substance charges or dealing with obscene matter, as well as a host of federal crimes. A RICO violation is triggered by any two of these crimes being committed, which is enough to establish a pattern of illegal activity. Originally enacted to target individuals involved in organized crime, the application of the RICO statutes has been expanded to include white-collar crimes such as insider-trading and Ponzi schemes.

Penalties for Racketeering

According to a press release from the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, each of the members of the prostitution ring could face a maximum penalty of 70 years in federal prison as well as fines that could reach $1.75 million.

If convicted, they would also be forced to forfeit any profits from the scheme. The US Attorney is asking the District Court to force the surrender of real estate, cars, bank holdings and other property valued in excess of $700,000.

Convictions for prostitution and other sex crimes will follow you for a lifetime. In addition to time spent in prison, individuals convicted of sex crimes must register as sex offenders. Depending on the severity of the offense, convicted persons have to register for at least 15 years, but could be forced to register for the rest of their lives.

If you have are facing charges for any racketeering or any of their related offenses, a Baltimore defense attorney can advise you of your rights and explain your options.