Bellevue sex-solicitation group members sentenced to community service

Two men arrested in the sex-solicitation bust conducted by local and federal law enforcement in January were sentenced last week to community service.

Stephen Jenkins and Lawrence Masaki both pled guilty to promoting prostitution and were sentenced to 240 hours of community service, a “Stopping Sexual Exploitation” class and fines on Nov. 18. Another man connected to the case, Vivek Asthana, was sentenced on Nov. 4 to 60 days in jail, 12 months probation, community service and completion of the same class.

They were arrested along with more than a dozen others for membership in multiple online chat websites where men frequenting prostitutes would discuss and promote different women’s services. Another four people were arrested for operating brothels in Bellevue in January.

The pair were members of a group called “The League” and its website, www.theloeg.net, according to police and court documents.

“Mr. Masaki is disappointed in himself and realizes that his unsound judgment steered his life off course. This experience has been devastating. Mr. Masaki feels a tremendous amount of guilt and remorse and will work hard to earn back the trust of his family,” court documents stated.

The standard sentencing recommendation for first-time offenders convicted of promoting prostitution is 30-90 days in jail.

Several others involved in the January 2016 bust have also been convicted, including the League members Justin Yoon, Paul Rhinehart, Noah Jorgenson, Mark Yamada, Richard Homchick, Sumit Vermani, John Lui and Banjamin Yu. Several court cases related to the bust are ongoing.

Three of the brothel owners and operators — Michael Durnal, Donald Mueller and Jabong Kim — have been sentenced to jail.

Sigurds Zitars, who started another of the websites shut-down in the January bust, killed himself in August after pleading guilty to three counts of promoting prostitution and being sentenced to 180 days in prison.

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