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Sunnyvale cop jailed for bribes, returning sex slaves

by Chronicle repost
16:56 PDT SAN JOSE -- A former Sunnyvale police officer was sentenced today to a year and a day in federal prison for helping two brothels avoid police raids, find fleeing prostitutes and collect tens of thousands of dollars in bogus immigration fees from employees who were illegal immigrants.
David Lee Miller Jr., 43, a former crime scene investigator, defensive tactics instructor and longtime SWAT team member with the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, pleaded guilty in January 2005 to two counts of conspiracy to commit extortion.

At a hearing today in San Jose, when U.S. District Judge James Ware asked Miller whether he had anything to say, he said in a barely audible voice, "I think I'll be sick if I talk." Miller declined comment afterward.

Miller was arrested as part of a scheme to smuggle women from Korea to the United States, charge them tens of thousands of dollars for the trip and then force them to work as prostitutes at the two South Bay brothels until the debt was repaid.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow said today that Miller jeopardized the safety of his colleagues when he alerted brothels to impending raids. Miller also helped recover women who fled their debt and the sex trade, authorities said.

Miller, a 15-year veteran, was a patrol officer on the 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift throughout the period of his criminal activity, police said. Among other duties, that shift would have required him to visit bars and nightclubs, including two sometimes-rowdy Korean "hostess bars": the Crystal Palace Nightclub and Ok Yeo Bong, Korean for "Beautiful Woman on a Mountain."

Both clubs were legitimate businesses offering food, drink and conversation with attractive women to a mostly Asian male clientele, according to court documents. But clients at both could purchase sex on request, according to investigators who used covert recordings, informants and search warrants to investigate both establishments.

Nedrow said Miller "used his position of authority to put very vulnerable people in a position where he was getting sexual benefits from them." The prosecutor said Miller's crimes were "appalling" and showed a "complete contempt for the laws of the community" and urged Ware to sentence Miller to a year in prison.

But Miller's attorney, Paul Meltzer, said his client had already been punished because he has lost his job, his wife has divorced him and his reputation has been ruined.

Miller's mother abandoned the family when he was 7 or 8 years old, and Miller's depression worsened after the "gut-wrenching" loss of his 24-year-old brother in a motorcycle crash, a tragedy that marked the first time Miller saw his father cry, Meltzer said in court papers. Miller suffers from depression, nightmares and insomnia, his attorney said.

Compounding Miller's stress was the fact that he shot and killed a knife-wielding suspect in August 2000 in a case of justifiable homicide, Meltzer said.

The defense attorney suggested a sentence of six months of home detention for Miller, a former Santa Cruz firefighter who, after losing his job in Sunnyvale, worked as a salesman for an alarm company. Miller, who is out on bail, is now a farrier, putting shoes on horses, Meltzer said.

Federal probation officials argued for an 18-month prison sentence, saying Miller told them that "counseling is a sign of weakness. I have no weaknesses."

Ware crafted a compromise of sorts: He ordered Miller to spend a year and a day in prison beginning June 29. By boosting the sentence to more than a year, the extra day would make Miller eligible to have his prison term reduced, possibly by a few weeks, for good behavior.

Crystal Palace owners employed Miller, paying him in cash and sex, and would contact him at the main Sunnyvale switchboard or through his personal cellular phone.

Miller accompanied club owners to Hawaii and Las Vegas to find women who had fled their debt, Nedrow said.

Ok Yeo Bong owner Sang Ye Han, whom authorities said has a previous record for inducing Korean women to enter the United States illegally, was sentenced last year to 33 months in prison. Han told an undercover agent that she had gotten to know a police officer named "David" around 1994 when he would come to her bar and "harass" her, court papers said.
by sfgate
REDWOOD CITY -- San Mateo County spent more than $14,000 for employees to participate in a law enforcement relay race that ended in Las Vegas with the county's sheriff and his top deputy being swept up in a prostitution sting.

The county controller's office said today that nearly half of the money -- $6,276 -- was spent on salaries for Sheriffs' Department employees who were preparing and planning for the footrace. Taxpayers also paid $5,971 to cover the costs for 11 county vehicles used to support the 54 county employees from the sheriff's, probation and district attorney's offices who participated in the 120-mile relay race.

County Manager John Maltbie asked for the budget review last month after Sheriff Greg Munks and Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos were detained at a Las Vegas massage parlor suspected of being a brothel. Neither man was arrested in the sting, which targeted eight Las Vegas brothels believed to be dealing in prostitution and human trafficking from Asia.

Munks apologized for the incident -- which he called a "personal embarrassment" -- but denied that he and Bolanos were guilty of wrongdoing. The sheriff said he had believed that he was going to a "legitimate business" when he got caught up in the raid.

Both Munks and Bolanos paid for their own trips, meals and accommodations, as did all the other county employees who participated in the Baker-to-Vegas challenge relay, according to the controller's report. Employees participated in the April 21 race on their own time.

The sheriff's office sent seven of the 11 county cars driven to the race, at a cost of $3,300. The county's probation office picked up race registration fees for 25 employees and spent an additional $2,900 on four county vehicles.

The use of county vehicles was approved by department heads, but should have also been cleared by the county manager, Maltbie said in his own report about the expenditures.

The district attorney's office, which had three employees participate, spent no county money on the race.

Maltbie said that from now on, he will require department heads to notify him of cost estimates and justify their participation in advance of events. He also recommended that the Board of Supervisors prohibit the use of county vehicles and on-duty personnel from participating in out-of-state events not sanctioned by the county.

"It's an inappropriate use of county funds,'' Supervisor Jerry Hill said after reading the report. "This is not a ton of money, but it's still a substantial amount of money when you consider what $15,000 can buy."

Capt. Don O'Keefe of the sheriff's office said Munks will meet with the supervisors to discuss their concerns about expenditures and vehicles used for the race. He said the race, which the sheriff's office entered this year for the first time since 2003, builds morale and promotes espirit de corps among participants.

The marathon relay, which is restricted to law enforcement and run by a private police organization from Los Angeles, is broken up into 20 stages and takes between a half and full day to complete.

The San Mateo County sheriff's team completed its run in 19 hours and 43 minutes and placed 204th out of a field of 227 teams. A team made up of employees from the San Mateo County probation and district attorney's offices placed 224th.

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