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Document and Benefit Fraud

Korean madam caught in 2012 Seattle-area prostitution bust sentenced

SEATTLE — A 42-year-old Korean woman was sentenced Friday to two years in prison and three years' supervised release on immigration fraud charges, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

Miyoung Roberts, of Auburn, pleaded guilty last October to conspiracy to commit immigration fraud; conspiracy to harbor, transport and induce illegal aliens; and attempting to commit immigration fraud. She admitted that, from 2009 to 2012, she arranged for more than two dozen Korean women to illegally enter the U.S. to be employed as sex workers at various clubs and salons around the country.

According to court documents, Roberts counseled the women how to avoid detection by immigration authorities. She also arranged apartments for them and supervised their prostitution activities. Prosecutors say Roberts, who herself illegally obtained U.S. citizenship through a sham marriage, attempted to arrange a fraudulent marriage for another co-conspirator. However, the U.S. citizen groom she recruited was actually an undercover law enforcement officer.

In January 2012, federal and state authorities arrested Roberts and her co-conspirators at the "Blue Moons," a bar and "room salon" in Federal Way. The illegal aliens Roberts hired worked as "bar girls" at the salon where they entertained male clients and engaged in prostitution.

In the sentencing memorandum to the court, prosecutors said of Roberts: "The defendant was involved in criminal activity for over three years, and even when not employed at the Blue Moon, she was actively recruiting and coordinating the travel of illegal Korean National women to work at various room salon [bar] businesses in New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Colorado." At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton chastised Roberts' calling her conduct "degrading" and "shameful."

The owner of the Blue Moon, Chang Kim, is due to be sentenced next month.

HSI received substantial assistance with the investigation from several agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Internal Revenue Service; the FBI; and the Federal Way, Seattle, Lakewood and Tacoma police departments. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington.