The U.S. Attorneys Office announced the charges Sept. 20 for Ye El Choi, also known as David Choi, 30, of Norcross. In addition, four others were arrested:
- Eugene Thomas Chung, also known as, Yoo Jin Chung, 39, of Duluth, Ga.
- Athith A. Vorasith, also known as, Andy Vorasith, 24, of Auburn, Ga.
- Jong Sung Kim, also known as, John Kim, 48, of Suwanee, Ga.
- Thomas Jungwon Lee, also known as, Tommy Lee, 32, of Duluth, Ga.
"The community does not need this kind of protective service, or any of the other illegal services the defendants allegedly offered," she added.
On Sept. 17, a federal grand jury in Atlanta returned a 13-count indictment against the aforementioned suspects. On Sept. 19, searches and arrests were conducted.
If convicted, Chung and Vorasith face a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment; Kim, Choi, and Lee face up to 20 years of imprisonment.
They also may be subject to fines of more than $1 million.
According to a news release, here is the background of the case:
"In about July 2009, Chung and his crew allegedly visited the Gah Bin Korean bar and restaurant in Gwinnett County, Ga., and demanded a monthly share of the restaurant’s profits in exchange for “protection.”
"Chung promised that, unless a victim made the demanded payments, Chung and his crew would assault this victim, harass his/her customers and employees, and otherwise damage the restaurant.
"To reinforce their threats, Chung told the victim his crew routinely carried firearms and terrorized other Korean businesses in the community. Over the next four months, Chung and his criminal associates allegedly strong-armed the victim into making monthly protection payments, ranging from $400 to $800."
In addition, the release also states:
"As part of the ongoing undercover investigation, on about March 10, 2010, the victim introduced an undercover agent to Chung, Vorasith, and Lee. During the recorded meeting, Chung explained to the undercover officer that he ran a marijuana distribution business and offered a menu of other illegal services as well, including gambling, extortion, and debt collection.
Chung offered to help the undercover officer if he ever needed money collected and stated, 'If you need us to beat up anybody, we’re professionals at that.' Chung added that he and his associates were 'best at making people crippled,' and said they could also make people 'permanently limp, blind, or deaf.'
"Upon hearing that the undercover officer supposedly was owed $200,000 by a businessman in Houston, Texas, who was behind in payments (and who was actually an undercover officer as well), Chung offered to collect the debt."