Civil lawsuit filed against man convicted in prostitution probe

WILMINGTON — A 55-year-old former Smyrna resident is facing up to $300,000 in civil fines for racketeering violations related to prostitution, the state announced Friday.

On Thursday, New Castle County Superior Court Judge Abigail M. LeGrow issued the 27-page decision against 55-year-old Chinese citizen Da Zhong Wang, arrested in 2015 and convicted on a promoting prostitution count. The civil action decided this week was submitted on July 16.

The Delaware Department of Justice said action involving human trafficking was the first of its kind in Delaware. The maximum penalty will be sought, according to spokesman Carl Kanefsky.

Wang operated massage parlors in Dover, Smyrna, Middletown and Rehoboth Beach from 2010 to 2015. Investigation began after complaints from the community, the DOJ said.
Delaware State Police conducted undercover visits to Middletown and Rehoboth Beach locations. Three massage therapists offered police officers sex in exchange for money during the sting operations, the opinion read.

Also, the order noted “the sewer of a third location was clogged with hundreds of used condoms on two separate occasions.
“Police officers investigating the businesses found that the employees who worked there spoke little to no English and lived in the establishments.

“Investigating officers also observed sexually suggestive online advertisements for the defendant’s massage businesses.”
While Wang at trial claimed he was unaware of the prostitution, the judge found that the testimony “strained credulity.”

The business violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Statue. The Division of Professional Regulation revoked Wang’s license. He closed all his establishments by 2015 and moved to New York, the judge noted.

The DOJ had earlier sought $700,000 for seven alleged offenses. The initial action was filed in May 2016.

The Court ordered a status update from attorneys within 30 days “regarding their proposed schedule to address the damages and penalties portion of the case.”

Deputy Attorneys General Oliver J. Cleary and Zoe Plerhoples of the civil division represented the state.

• Also Friday, the DOJ announced that a 26-year-old Laurel man received 10 years in prison for a previous guilty plea to first-degree sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust in Superior Court.
Brandon Flood must also complete the Transitions Sex Offender Program and then serve a year of either home confinement or work release. He was required to register as a Tier 3 sex offender.

Deputy Attorney General Casey L. Ewart prosecuted the case, assisted by DSP Detective Derek Cathell, DOJ social worker Carla Ennals and administrative specialist Angelique Waters.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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