The owner of a Macon massage parlor was sentenced to three years in federal prison Tuesday for her part in operating what a judge described as a “brazen” house of prostitution.
Hyeon Joo Chae, a 51-year-old native of Korea, opened Soft Hands Massage & Spa on Riverside Drive in 2008. The name of the business changed to Sedona Tanning Salon in 2010.
Despite multiple police raids and her pleading guilty to prostitution in 2010, Chae continued to operate the brothel until Dec. 31, 2012. U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell sentenced Chae to a year on probation on the prostitution charge.
The business deposited $709,000 during that period. That figure is separate from the money that prostitutes were allowed to keep for themselves, according to plea agreements in the case.
As part of her plea deal, Chae pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use an interstate facility to promote prostitution and conspiracy to commit money laundering. She must forfeit an Atlanta condominium, a BMW and $4,020 cash.
After her release from prison, Chae is required to report to immigration authorities. She also must serve three years on probation.
Chae came to the United States legally at age 35.
Three of Chae’s employees also were sentenced Tuesday. An interpreter aided the four women in understanding the proceedings. Each one is a Korean national.
Kye Wol “Kim” Dyreson, 72, the parlor’s “house mother,” was sentenced to three years on probation. She has pleaded guilty to using an interstate facility to promote, manage and carry on prostitution.
Dyreson’s husband, an Army veteran, and her son sat in the courtroom as her lawyer described how she has had trouble sleeping since her arrest.
Dyreson earned $1,500 a month, plus room and board, for cooking, cleaning, greeting customers and handling money for the business, said Laura D. Hogue, her lawyer.
Hogue said no minors or sex trafficking were involved in the business. Coercion and violence weren’t allowed.
Jin “Sunny” Noh, 51, was sentenced to one year on probation. She has pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, essentially concealing a crime.
David West, Noh’s lawyer, said his client had worked at the massage parlor for just five days.
She worked as a prostitute, according to her plea agreement.
“She is embarrassed beyond any level of any client I’ve ever had,” West said.
Noh’s husband also sat in the courtroom during the hearing.
Ki Un “Love” Jordan, 50, was sentenced to three years on probation. She has also pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony.
Jordan’s lawyer, Samuel Harrison, said his client was the one who “blew the case wide open” through her cooperation with authorities.
The prosecution suggested more lenient sentences for Dyreson, Jordan and Noh because of their assistance.
Here are details of how the operation worked, according to plea agreements signed by Chae, Dyreson, Jordan and Noh:
None of the employees was licensed to perform massages.
Although the business had one tanning bed, it was not used.
Female patrons were turned away at the door.
Chae received a “house fee” of between $40 and $60 for every customer served. Women working as prostitutes had to pay a weekly fee to Chae to cover food and a daily tip for the manager.
Prostitutes charged between $40 and $100 to perform sex acts. Money for the sex acts was the women’s to keep, although they were barred from charging more than $100 for any one service.
Noh worked as a prostitute from Nov. 30, 2012, to Dec. 4, 2012. She arrived using a Korean taxi that took her from Atlanta to the business. She knew she would be performing sex acts for money before her arrival.
The women were responsible for buying their own condoms. Noh hid hers under a trash can so they would be out of plain view.
During Noh’s short employment, she served five to eight men a day, working from about 9 a.m. to midnight.
Noh admitted she offered to have sex with an undercover officer on Dec. 4, 2012, for $120.
Jordan initially was employed at the massage parlor for three weeks in October 2012. She left to take care of “personal financial affairs,” but she was asked to return in November 2012 after another woman left following a business license check.
When Jordan worked at the massage parlor, it typically was staffed with three prostitutes at a time. As time passed, there were fewer customers and the staff shrunk.
The women took turns as customers arrived, unless a customer specifically requested someone.
Jordan kept a ledger -- an accounting of the women and the services they provided -- because Dyerson, who kept the money, couldn’t write.
Chae has admitted she changed the name of the business, putting its ownership into a shell corporation she controlled because she had become concerned about law enforcement’s interest in the massage parlor, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.