Defendants in high-end brothel case seeking plea agreements, court filings show

The three defendants charged in connection “with operating sophisticated high-end brothels” are in the midst of plea deal negotiations, according to court filings.

The trio were arrested last November for allegedly operating brothels outside of both Boston and Washington, D.C. and, according to court filings, are bargaining to lessen the potential punishment they face.

“The parties have engaged in plea discussions, including Guidelines analyses. A trial of all Defendants would require up to ten days,” United States Magistrate Judge David Hennessy wrote in court filings made public this week.

Defendants James Lee, 68, of Torrance, California; Junmyung Lee, 30, of Dedham; and the alleged brothel ringleader, Han Lee, 41, of Cambridge — none of whom are related — face maximum sentences including decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines if convicted.

All three are charged with conspiracy to coerce and entice to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity and money laundering, according to charging documents.

The men were indicted by a grand jury in February, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, after it was alleged that “from at least July 2020, the defendants operated an interstate prostitution network with multiple brothels in Cambridge and Watertown, Mass., as well as in Fairfax and Tysons, Va.”

“It is alleged that the defendants collectively established the infrastructure for brothels in multiple states which they used to persuade, induce and entice women – primarily Asian women – to travel to Massachusetts and Virginia to engage in prostitution,” the U.S. Attorney wrote.

According to the Department of Justice, the defendants were allegedly selling sex to “elected officials, high tech and pharmaceutical executives, doctors, military officers, government contractors that possess security clearances, professors, attorneys.”

The names of the alleged johns involved in the case have not been released while their lawyers fight for their anonymity.

Hennessy, in his most recent filing, also indicated that the U.S. government had produced discovery in the case on March 5 and May 30. The judge described both “productions as voluminous” and said that he expects the government will provide more evidence to the court in the future.

An interim status conference on the case is scheduled for July 18 at 9:30 a.m. at the Donohue Federal Building in Worcester.

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