POSTED: 12:30 p.m. HST, Jun 10, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 01:38 a.m. HST, Jun 11, 2013
SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands » A Chinese owner of a karaoke bar in the Northern Marianas was convicted of sex trafficking, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday.
A jury convicted Chang Ru Meng Backman, 40, of one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion.
She was the "boss lady" of the Holiday Karaoke Club and coerced vulnerable Chinese women into having sex with customers for her financial benefit, the justice department said. Authorities said she preyed on women who had been enticed to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands from China with promises of legitimate work on a farm, hotel or restaurant.
The FBI began investigating in the summer of 2009.
"Once the women arrived, Backman used their debt, lack of legal immigration status and inability to speak English to compel them to engage in commercial sex acts at her business — the Holiday Karaoke Club," states a justice department news release. "Backman also drove the women to and from the bar so that the women could have sex with men at her direction."
Three victims testified during the trial.
She faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum term of life imprisonment. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 13.
"The defendant preyed on the hopes and dreams of the victims, forcing them into a life of prostitution," said Alicia A.G. Limtiaco, U.S. Attorney for the districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. "The jury's verdict makes clear that sex trafficking schemes will not be tolerated."