For Immediate Release:
For Further Information Contact:
March 26, 2004
Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director
John R. Hagerty
Division of Criminal Justice
Attorney General's Office Targets S. Jersey Prostitution Network
"Accupressure" Offices Used as Front for Ring
Division of Criminal Justice Raids 7 Locations In 3 Counties
Owner/Operators & Prostitutes Charged
TRENTON - Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Vaughn L. McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice, today announced that an ongoing investigation targeting an organized prostitution network has resulted in the arrest of the owner/operators and numerous alleged prostitutes on prostitution-related charges. The investigation uncovered information that a number of illegal houses of prostitution masquerading as "accupressure" offices and massage parlors were open for business in three South Jersey counties.
Director McKoy said the arrests result from an extensive, nine-month investigation coordinated by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice - Organized Crime & Racketeering Bureau, South Unit. The investigation targeted at least seven known Korean-owned and operated locations purported to be accupressure, massage, and physical therapy businesses operating in Camden, Burlington and Gloucester counties. It is charged that the facilities are fronts for illegal houses of prostitution.
"Today's arrests send a loud and clear message that the Attorney General's Office, the Division of Criminal Justice, and county and municipal law enforcement agencies will investigate, uncover and arrest individuals who operate illegal houses of prostitution," Attorney General Harvey said. "Prostitution and related activities is illegal and impacts the quality of life for honest, hard-working citizens who live and work near such locations. The success of this operation will result in safer streets and neighborhoods."
According to Criminal Justice Director McKoy, the undercover aspect of the investigation ended with the arrest of the owner/operators of the purported accupressure businesses. Criminal charges include conspiracy, promoting prostitution and prostitution. The law enforcement crackdown also included the execution of search warrants at seven locations in Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties. The defendants, arrested on Thursday (March 25) are being held in the Camden County Jail pending arraignment and bail in Camden County Superior Court.
Arrested and charged with conspiracy and promoting prostitution are Mee R. Lee, 56, 4151 Route 42, Turnersville, Gloucester County and Pu Kyong Tuite, 209 Garth Road, Scarsdale, NY. It is charged that Lee is the owner/operator of four of the accupressure businesses while Tuite is the owner of one of the accupressure locations. Arrest warrants remain outstanding for several other individuals identified as participants in the illegal operation. Additionally, state investigators and local law enforcement officers arrested nine females allegedly acting as prostitutes at the various accupressure offices. The identifications of the Korean females remains pending.
The locations of the accupressure businesses and alleged prostitution locations include:
- 1. Physical Care Accupressure, 506- A/B Station Ave., Haddon Heights, Camden County;
2. Physical Accupressure Therapy, 614 White Horse Pike, Monroe Township, Atco, Camden County;
3. Physical Therapy Care, 316 Kresson-Gibbsboro Road, Voohees, Camden County;
4. South Jersey Accupressure, 446 East Route 38, Maple Shade, Burlington County;
5. Kabuki Accupressure, 4151 Route 42, Turnersville, Gloucester County;
6. Physical Care Therapy Accupressure, 38 Washington Street, Monroe Township, Williamstown, Gloucester County;7. Route 30 Accupressure, 321 Yale Ave., Stratford, Camden County.
The investigation determined that the employees of the various "accupressure" offices - preliminarily identified as "Tina," "Mia," "Mina," "Hannah," "Soo y," "Suzie," "Sue," "Yoko," and "Sara" - would charge $50 for a one half-hour "massage" and $60 for a full hour therapy treatment, not including a minimum $20 cash tip. In many instances, prior arrangements were required to gain entry, as the office doors were routinely locked to prevent unauthorized entry or access. The investigation has uncovered information that many of the females were brought to the New Jersey area from states throughout the country to work as prostitutes.
The ongoing investigation was initiated by the Division of Criminal Justice - Organized Crime & Racketeering Bureau, South Unit and received additional investigative support from the Waterford Township Police Department, Maple Shade Police Department, Washington Township Police Department, Haddon Heights Police Department, Monroe Township Police Department, Stratford Boro Police Department and the Voorhees Township Police Department.
Attorney General Harvey and Criminal Justice Director McKoy credited the law enforcement personnel for their dedicated work in pursuing the continuing investigation. Deputy Attorney General Laura Ergood and Supervising Deputy Attorney General Meredith Cote' from the Division of Criminal Justice - Organized Crime & Racketeering Bureau, South Unit prepared search and arrest warrants and will present the cases to the State Grand Jury. Supervising State Investigator Wendy Boles and State Investigators James Nelson, Richard Carlin and Andrew Schrader, assigned to the Organized Crime & Racketeering Bureau, South Unit, coordinated the investigation.
In the interest of investigative security and pursuant to established court requirements, the Attorney General's Office, the Division of Criminal Justice and the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office is limited in discussing specific details regarding the ongoing investigation and the alleged conspiracies. All persons charged in criminal complaints are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.