Indian-origin owners of crime-ridden motels plead guilty in US

Three Indian-origin men in the US have pleaded guilty to owning and managing motels where they ran illegal businesses, including selling drugs and sexual services, and could face a maximum penalty of 20 years behind bars.

Jaspal Singh, 37, Kulwinder Saroya, 42, and Lakhvir Pawar, 41, admitted that they knowingly operated drug-involved premises at their motels in Seattle and profited from the drug activity there.

The men have agreed to forfeit the two motels, their home in SeaTac, more than USD 265,000 seized from their home and bank accounts, US Attorney Jenny Durkan said.

"We will use all of our tools to seize criminal proceeds, protect the public, and hold people accountable," Durkan said.

"These defendants profited by knowingly operating motels that were a blight on the community, creating an unsafe environment, and soaking up police resources to the detriment of the community. It is fully appropriate that this prosecution take the profit out of these criminal activities."

Pawar served as the manager of one of the motels and has agreed to forfeit more than USD 90,000 he accumulated from the criminal activity.

All three men will be sentenced by US District Judge John Coughenour in February next year.

While the government has agreed to recommend a prison term of not more than a year for each person, the final quantum of punishment will be decided by the judge who can impose up to the maximum 20 years allowed by law.

According to records filed to seize the motels, undercover officers and people working with law enforcement were used to investigate and document the "criminal activity" at the motels and the role the owners and managers played.

Saroya and Singh admitted they would collect or would direct their staff to collect a USD 10 entry fee for those coming on the property seeking drugs or sexual services.
The two admitted that they collected additional rental fees from the drug dealer or sex worker based on how many customers they served.

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