Irvine is being sued for $150,000 by a man who city police held overnight after a woman now in custody is alleged to have falsely accused him of domestic violence so she could steal from him while he was jailed.
Sunmee Kim, 39, who is accused of pulling cons on businessmen she met through Korean dating websites, remains in Orange County Jail without bail on burglary charges.
Deukman Lee's nightmare with her began last Dec. 13, when Kim called the Irvine Police Department to his Stanford Avenue home to say the 45-year-old businessman had hit her 10 times with a wooden practice sword, according to his lawsuit.
Kim, under a false name, later told responding Officer Joseph Jun that she had lived in Lee's home for a month, that they were engaged and that she was pregnant, claims the suit, which adds that when the cop asked the woman for identification, she claimed it was in a purse Lee had hidden from her.
With Kim displaying injuries consistent with domestic abuse, Jun began to take Lee into custody, but the lawsuit contends the accused asked that police first confirm Kim was who she said she was. Lee wound up spending the night in jail before making his $5,000 bail. But an emergency protective order barred him from getting within 100 yards of his Stanford Avenue home.
Lee's lawsuit claims that Jun broke
normal law enforcement protocol and that he should have taken better
steps initially to properly identify Kim, whose story was even disputed to the officer by his neighbors. The city denies the
The Irvine Police Department at the time of the incident portrayed Jun as a hero for doggedly pursuing the truth. Even with Lee in custody, it seemed odd to Jun that Kim could produce no identification, said police, providing this account:
Once Jun returned to the station, he did some nosing around and through government databases was able to find a photo I.D. of the
woman whose name Kim provided. Their physical descriptions matched, but
while Kim looked similar to the female in the photo, the officer still
felt something was not exactly right. So, Kim was asked about it, and
she is said to have explained she recently had cosmetic surgery.
Still unconvinced, Jun took the woman's fingerprints, and she came back as Sunmee Kim, not the name she had given. Kim's prints had been taken in a 2010 grand theft out of Garden Grove, where a businessman who had met her through KoreanCupid.com–the same site Lee had used–was later accused by her to have tried to rob her. While that man was in custody, Kim allegedly cleaned out his house. She also had a warrant out of Los Angeles, where she was accused of trying to extort money out of a man who provided her shelter in Koreatown in 2009. Kim allegedly threatened to tell LA cops he had kidnapped and beat her.
Jun went back to confront Kim, but she was gone–allegedly with Lee's stuff, because the Stanford Avenue residence had been burglarized. Irvine detectives traced Kim to a Koreatown home on Dec. 21, and police believe she was in the process of stealing the identity of a woman who took pity on Kim because she allegedly claimed to be recovering from cancer.
Investigators believe Kim pulled the same act on a second Irvine businessman she met through KoreanCupid.com, using the false identity she first gave to Irvine Police, and that she robbed a Korean woman traveling in the U.S. by offering a place to stay and, while the visitor was at a day spa, taking clothing, jewelry, passports and other paperwork that were later recovered in Irvine and returned to the victim.
Kim now faces nine counts of false imprisonment, eight counts of kidnapping, four
counts of burglary and two counts of grand theft dating back to 2010.
Lee's lawsuit, which is still awaiting a trial date, proves that his lawyers known their thesarus, as their client is claimed to have suffered from shame, fright, horror, shock, grief, worry, anguish, anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, humiliation and emotional distress because of the initial police response, and that the whole mess has negatively impacted his ability to run his
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.