Three businessmen face 20 years in jail for illegal operations.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Three Indian-American men who were arrested for running motels that acted as festering grounds for all sorts of illegal activity have pleaded guilty.
Jaspal Singh, Lakhvir Pawar, and Kulwinder Saroya – ages 37, 41, and 42, respectively – confessed their guilt as part of a plea deal, which requires Singh and Saroya to give up over $265,000 that the US Attorney’s Office seized from their homes and bank accounts, two motels owned by the three men, a 4,480 square-foot home in SeaTac (Seattle-Tacoma, Washington, where the three men are from), and a 2007 Mercedes-Benz car. Pawar, on the other hand, will lose his share in the remaining hotel as well as $90,000 that were seized from him.
Between July 1, 2012 and June 20, 2013, there were reportedly 223 calls complaining about illicit activities happening at the motels in question. This past August, an army of federal agents and cops raided the three Tukwila-area motels owned by the men, under suspicion that they were being used as grounds for drug deals and prostitution. Court documents listed the motels as being the scenes of numerous drug deals (normally involving crack cocaine), solicitation complaints, sexual assaults, and rapes.
But what brought the three desis into the hands of law enforcement agents were accusations that they were profiting from all this, by exacting a fee on the criminals that used the motels to conduct their dirty work. Basically, for the right price, Singh, Pawar, and Sarova would turn a blind eye to crime in their own establishment if they were paid just $10 up-front.
Since the arrest and subsequent closing of the three establishments – which was greeted with cheers and led some citizens to thank the police for “cleaning up their city” – calls to the police in regards to complaints from that area of the town have decreased by one-third.
The three men now await sentencing, which will be carried out on February 28 by US District Court Judge John C. Coughenour. They face a maximum sentence of 20 years each in prison.
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