in nude Internet
A federal grand jury has indicted a man believed to be the mastermind of a ring that smuggled Japanese women to the United States to work as nude Internet models.
Takao Asayama yesterday pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to a three-count indictment charging him with conspiracy and two counts of money laundering.
Asayama was arrested in California recently and brought here to face prosecution.
Four male codefendants arrested in January pleaded guilty earlier to charges of conspiracy and received sentences ranging from a year of probation to 28 months in federal prison.
Of the four, Akira Sekimoto, the head of the Honolulu operation that operated out of a Kamehameha Heights residence, also was charged with money laundering and received the harshest sentence of 28 months imprisonment and fined $3,000. He assisted federal prosecutors by identifying Asayama and may be called to testify at Asayama's trial.
Four models who were brought to Hawaii pleaded guilty to using false information to enter the United States. The women returned to Japan after they were sentenced to six months of supervised release and fined $40.
Tuesday, April 18, 2000http://starbulletin.com/2000/04/18/news/story9.html
Man pleads guilty
By Pat Gee
The leader of a ring charged with smuggling Japanese nationals into Honolulu to work as nude Internet models has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court.
Akira Sekimoto, a Japanese national, will face sentencing before Judge Helen Gillmor at 1:30 p.m. July 24. Yesterday, he entered a plea agreement that could bring a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a $500,000 fine.
Gillmor took a substantial amount of time to make sure Sekimoto, who communicated through an interpreter, understood the charges before him. She questioned him about what he did, when and how he was guilty and also asked if he was forced by anyone to change his plea. Sekimoto replied, "No."
Sekimoto pleaded guilty to conspiring to bring in four Japanese women to work illegally under the U.S. visa-waiver program as models and to laundering money from the operation through bank accounts in Japan and Sweden.
Sekimoto was one of four men arrested in January for conspiracy but is the only one being held without bail
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Omer Poirier, Sekimoto is president of Aloha Data Ltd. but ran the company on behalf of the true owner, Takao Asayama, who is "not a local." Poirier said "we are not sure where he (Asayama) is" and declined to comment on where Asayama is from.
Poirier said he believes the other three suspects, including Shihoko Sakamoto, Sean Nakayama and Takao Ono, will also follow with guilty pleas. A fifth suspect, Naoki Shimada, is still in Japan and has not yet been arraigned, Poirier said.