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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
05/07/2010

Former West Palm Beach spa owner pleads guilty to harboring illegal aliens, money laundering

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Mal Suk Kim, 60, of Palm Beach County, pleaded guilty today to a criminal information charging her with harboring illegal aliens and money laundering, following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-led investigation.

According to court documents and statements made in court in connection with the plea hearing, on Sept. 30, 2008, special agents from ICE, Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and deputies from the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office (PBSO) executed federal search warrants at Coral Spa in West Palm Beach and the Wellington, Fla. residence of Hannah Eun Sung Chong, 50.

Kim owned 50 percent of Coral Spa until Feb. 26, 2008, when she sold her 50 percent share of the business to Chong. Documents filed with the court show that defendant Kim hired two undocumented aliens to work and live at Coral Spa, without having them complete any paperwork or job applications, and without regard to their immigration status. Customers paid Chong for the work performed by the illegal aliens at the Coral Spa, and Chong, in turn, paid a portion of those proceeds to defendant Kim. Kim knew that the money she was receiving was generated by the work of these illegal aliens.

Kim is scheduled for sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks on July 20. She faces a statutory maximum term of 10 years in prison on the harboring count and up to 20 years in prison on the money laundering count. Kim also agreed to forfeit $150,000 involved in the money laundering offense to which she pleaded guilty.

Chong previously pleaded guilty on March 6, 2009, to a superseding information, also charging her with harboring illegal aliens and money laundering. Chong is scheduled to be sentenced on July 8 before U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. McMillan.