Gao Yang Zhou, the 35-year-old operator of what was once the best little whorehouse in Irvine, cut a deal with an Orange County Superior Court judge that had him pleading guilty Monday to operating a brothel in exchange for four years in state prison.
The Rowland Heights resident faced a maximum of 11 years and eight months in prison if he was convicted without a guilty plea, the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) said at Zhou's arraignment in December.
He pleaded guilty Monday to 12 felony counts, including three felony counts each of pimping, pandering, money laundering, and one felony count each of conspiracy to commit pimping, conspiracy to commit pandering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, with a sentencing enhancement for money laundering over $50,000.
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Zhou traveled to Irvine in search of an apartment, and an accomplice signed a lease to an Alton Parkway unit, which Zhou then turned into a residential brothel. Three women worked there as prostitutes, and Zhou paid the expenses, which included advertising.
He also solicited clients for a brothel at an Extended Stay America in Torrance and oversaw the opening of a second brothel in Irvine. Even though one of those locations is in Los Angeles County, the OCDA lumped it into the local case in Orange County Superior Court on the legal theory that it was part of the same ongoing conspiracy.
Meanwhile, an arrest warrant is out for Yuzhen Xie, a 32-year-old Rowland Heights resident who faces the same charges and enhancement as Zhou. Considered a fugitive, she allegedly ran one Irvine brothel and found the second location.