A Gwinnett County gang leader has been sentenced — and a Suwanee man awaits sentencing — in an extortion scheme that targeted business owners in the Korean-American community.
Eugene Thomas Chung, 43, of Duluth was the third of five defendants to be sentenced in the case, and received 10 years, six months in prison plus three years of supervised release, according to U.S. Attorney John Horn.
Chung was the leader in a gang that would shake down businesses for debt collection and "protection payments." They also trafficked drugs and conducted illegal gambling, according to Horn.
“Chung carefully cultivated his reputation for violence, and profited from that reputation by victimizing our Korean-American community,” said Horn in a statement.
“He bragged that he and his associates were ‘professionals’ at extortion and that harming their victims was one more way to get people to pay. The community is safer now that he and his fellow gang members are off the streets.”
Jong Sung "John" Kim, 52, of Suwanee is awaiting sentencing for his role in the scheme. He was convicted of two counts of extortion March 2, and will be sentenced June 5.
Athith "Andy" Vorasith, 36, of Auburn pleaded guilty in February 2016, and was given seven years, three months in prison in July 2016.
The trio, along with Thomas Jungwon "Tommy" Lee, 36, of Duluth and Ye El "David" Choi, 33, of Norcross, in the summer of 2009 threatened the owner of a Korean restaurant with assault if he didn't give them a share of his profits.
The monthly payments ranged from $400 to 800, said Horn.
When the owner missed a payment in December 2009, the gang followed through with their threat, assaulting the man at gunpoint and threatening to kill him.
The five men were indicted September 17, 2013 for their roles in the operation, which was uncovered by an undercover FBI sting. Agents dispatched a phony "business man" who offered the gang members a role in his marijuana distribution ring, and asked for their help with a client who was apparently $200,000 behind on payments.
The gang members, while being recorded, confronted the "client" at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, forcing him to give up $5,000 cash and a Rolex watch, according to Horn.
“Mr. Chung counted on the silence of his many victims within the Korean community as he beat and extorted them. This case, and sentencing of Mr. Chung to federal prison, came about from brave and informed community members who understood their rights and were willing to stand up for those rights by working with our federal agents and federal prosecutors in order to put a stop to Mr. Chung and his gang. The FBI thanks those individuals for their efforts as they now enjoy a safer community due primarily to their own actions and willingness to get involved,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, in a statement.