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United States

Hawaii brothel owner jailed for 21 months, faces deportation to China, after trying to bribe US officials

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2017, 12:22pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2017, 10:23pm

A woman found guilty of bribing US federal agents in exchange for protecting her Hawaii massage parlour from prostitution raids was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months in prison.

A judge also sentenced Biyu Situ to three years’ supervised release. A jury found her guilty in April of two counts of bribery.

She was arrested after Homeland Security investigators said she offered money for raid protection, help with the US citizenship test and recruitment of prostitutes.

During the trial, jurors heard recordings of Situ saying she wanted the same arrangement her friend had with police. Defence attorney Thomas Otake said he tried to raise an entrapment defence. Her arrest stemmed from human-trafficking allegations but investigators weren’t able to build such a case because the women working at the massage parlour said they were treated well, Otake said.

Situ’s US Navy sailor son, college student daughter and ex-husband attended the sentencing. “She must have done something right along the way,” in raising her children Otake said.

Through a Putonghua interpreter, Situ declined to speak at her sentencing.

US District Judge Susan Oki Mollway said the sentence is at the low end of a sentencing guideline range in part because Situ likely faces deportation to China, which in some ways can be a tougher sentence than imprisonment because it would be a forced separation from her family.

But on the other hand, Situ spent several years running a massage parlour offering prostitution, Mollway said. “Offering a bribe is a serious crime,” she said, adding that Situ also wanted the return of two prostitutes’ seized passports.

Situ has stayed out of trouble while released on bail, Mollway said. She now works at a restaurant, Otake said.

Mollway is recommending that Situ serve her sentence at a federal detention camp near the San Francisco area, where her children live.

Situ’s co-accused Wei Li, also known as Xin Li, was previously convicted of unlawful ownership or operation of a business.