A Georgia woman ran a brothel disguised as a Logan Township spa and had Asian women brought in from around the country to work the illicit business, the FBI has charged after a multi-year investigation with Pennsylvania state police.
Yon "Coco" Park, 59, of Suwanee, Ga., remains free on $10,000 unsecured bond after her arrest Sept. 28 after a state and federal raid on the Sunset Health Spa, 3307 Pleasant Valley Blvd.
The FBI alleged Park and her husband, Steven Park, also known as Byong Park, owned the spa where sexual favors where bought and sold under the premise of massages, according to court documents. Coco Park lived at the spa and ran the business while Steven Park stayed in Georgia, according to the FBI.
Using three confidential informants, including a man who for about seven years ran errands for the Parks, tasks that involved going to the bank and post office and driving women to and from the spa from airports, train stations and other states, according to charges filed in U.S. District Court in Johnstown.
The informant, who started as a customer before running errands for cash and then working for the government, also supplied Coco Park with fresh condoms and held used condoms, often hidden in empty drink boxes, for Steve Park, as well as white envelopes containing business records.
Another confidential informant, the FBI noted in a 26-page affidavit, paid for sexual favors at the business. State police began the investigation in 2009, records indicate, and ultimately the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service became involved.
Asian women with nicknames such as Lucky, Mindy and Sunny, rotated in and out of the brothel, which always had at least two women working and living there at all times, every few months, according to the FBI. Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New York, Washington and Maryland were some of the states from where women came to the spa to work as prostitutes, according to court documents.
In March 2009, Coco Park was diagnosed with cancer and sought treatment in Korea off-and-on during the next three years, the investigation showed. In her absence, other women allegedly stepped in to manage the spa, and the FBI noted nearly weekly bank deposits between $2,000 and $4,000 for the business, as well as money orders and wire transfers.
The investigation also included surveillance, including recorded conversations that included one of the women, "Mindy," complaining that "Lucky," who was running the spa in Coco Park's absence, wouldn't let her leave, "even though everyone knew that the spa was nothing more than a whorehouse," FBI Special Agent Arnold Bernard wrote in the affidavit.
Steven Park, who has not been charged, would allegedly drive to Altoona periodically to collect the white envelopes holding the financial records as well as the used condoms.
Armed with a search warrant, FBI agents and troopers from the state police's Organized Crime Task Force descended on the spa, located in a small strip mall, on Sept. 28 and found a naked "john" in the midst of a sexual act with a spa employee, Sun Young Park, 44.
According to state charges filed in Blair County, the unnamed "john" allegedly told police he paid $100 to Sun Park for her to perform oral sex on him, and according to state police, the money, as well as a tally sheet indicating the time the man arrived, were found in spa's office.
Sun Park, who remains in Blair County Prison in lieu of $10,000 cash bail, faces one count of prostitution and is due to appear for a preliminary hearing on Thursday before Magisterial District Judge Steven D. Jackson.
Coco Park, a Korean who has lived in the U.S. for 35 years according to her attorney, is charged with one count transporting a person across state lines to engage in prostitution, a charge her attorney said she'll fight.
"We're pleading not guilty," said Park's attorney, Thomas M. Dickey, who said his firm was looking at the evidence against Park and communicating with the U.S. Attorney's Office. Dickey said he'll be asking for Coco Park's next court date on Oct. 22 in Johnstown to be pushed back.
The spa is temporarily closed, Dickey said.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.