The nation in brief: U.S. says 3 charged in sex ring bust

U.S. says 3 charged in sex ring bust

Three people have been charged with running a sophisticated commercial sex ring in Massachusetts and eastern Virginia that catered to well-connected clients such as elected officials and military officers, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Women were featured on websites that falsely claimed to advertise nude Asian models for professional photography, and high-end apartments with monthly rents as high as $3,660 were used as brothels, prosecutors say. Another website allowed clients to rate the women, prosecutors say.

"This commercial sex ring was built on secrecy and exclusivity, catering to a wealthy and well-connected clientele, and business was booming, until today," Acting Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Josh Levy said.

The Massachusetts brothels were in Watertown and Cambridge, while others were outside of Washington, D.C., in Tysons and Fairfax, Va., prosecutors said.

Han "Hana" Lee 41, of Cambridge, Mass., James Lee, 68, of Torrance, Calif., and Junmyung Lee, 30, of Dedham, Mass., were arrested Wednesday and charged with conspiracy to coerce and entice others to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity. Prosecutors say they made hundreds of thousands of dollars through the scheme.

2 arrested in 190 decaying corpses case

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The owners of a Colorado funeral home were arrested Wednesday in Oklahoma on charges linked to the discovery of 190 sets of decaying remains at one of their facilities, including some that apparently had been there for four years.

Investigators entered the Return to Nature Funeral Home building in the Rocky Mountain town of Penrose in early October to find "abhorrent" conditions with dozens of stacked bodies, according to a federal affidavit under seal in Colorado but available in Oklahoma.

Some bodies had 2019 death dates, according to the document.

"Law enforcement now knows the cremains each family was given could not have been their loved one," reads the documents alleging funeral home owners Jon and Carie Hallford had fled Colorado to avoid prosecution.

The Hallfords were jailed on $2 million bond on a Colorado arrest warrant alleging approximately 190 counts of abuse of a corpse, five counts of theft, four counts of money laundering and over 50 counts of forgery -- after their arrest in Wagoner, east of Tulsa. They're set for an initial appearance on a federal fleeing charge on Nov. 9 in Muskogee.

They couldn't be reached for comment and didn't have attorneys listed in jail records. Neither has a listed personal phone number, and the funeral home's number no longer works.

Texan in AG scandal gets more charges

DALLAS -- A Texas businessman at the center of the scandal that led to the historic impeachment of state Attorney General Ken Paxton has been charged with additional federal crimes.

The new indictment of Nate Paul alleges that he defrauded business partners, adding to earlier charges that the Austin-based real estate developer made false statements to mortgage lenders to obtain $172 million in loans.

Paul, 36, pleaded innocent in June to eight counts of making false statements while seeking loans from mortgage lenders in the U.S. and Ireland. His attorneys did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the superseding indictment issued Tuesday on four new counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The charges against Paul are the result of a yearslong FBI investigation in which Paxton involved his office, setting off a chain of events that led to a separate federal probe of the Republican attorney general and his failed May impeachment by the GOP-controlled state House of Representatives.

2 deputies, suspect hurt in N.C. shootout

MAXTON, N.C. -- Two sheriff's deputies from a southeastern North Carolina county and a man who was the subject of a warrant were wounded during exchanges of gunfire, the local sheriff said.

Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins said at a Tuesday news conference the three men were shot around 9:30 a.m. in a community outside of Maxton, about 120 miles southeast of Raleigh. The deputies were in serious condition, but expected to recover, the sheriff said. The suspect is in critical but stable condition.

The suspect, identified as 20-year-old Shawn Tobin Locklear Jr.,fled the area by getting into one of the wounded deputies' cruisers and backing up, running over one of the deputies and breaking his leg. The suspect was ultimately captured by other deputies, according to the sheriff.

Locklear was accused of murder in December and was released on bond in May. The sheriff said Locklear had been sought by deputies for violating the conditions of his pretrial release because the monitoring bracelet around his ankle had been removed.

Wilkins thanked two residents who provided a belt and a towel to help stop the bleeding of the wounded officers.