Burien man pleads ‘Guilty’ to maintaining drug/prostitution-related motels
A Burien man entered a guilty plea in the case involving the seizure of three Tukwila, Washington motels that were operated as havens for drug dealing and sex crimes, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan Friday (Oct. 18).
Lakhvir Pawar, 41, was the manager of the Boulevard Motel on International Boulevard in Tukwila, which was busted by the Feds Aug. 27 (read our previous coverage here).
In his plea agreement, Pawar admits to profiting from drug sales at the motel. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Pawar will forfeit his interest in the motel and in about $90,000 seized in August 2013 when the motel and two others were seized and shut down by federal authorities. Under the terms of the agreement, if any of Pawar’s relatives challenge the forfeiture, prosecutors can withdraw from the plea agreement. Prosecutors will recommend a prison term of not more than a year and a day in prison, and will recommend that Pawar be barred from owning or managing motels and from working at any motel owned or managed by his family during three years of supervised release. Judge John C. Coughenour is not bound by the recommendation and can impose up to the 20 year maximum when Pawar is sentenced before the court on February 28, 2014.
According to the plea agreement, Pawar admits that between 2003 and 2013, he was the primary manager at the Boulevard Motel. Between 2007 and 2013, there were 33 drug related incidents, 27 assaults and 11 robberies at the motel. During that time period, Pawar knew drugs were being sold at the motel and profited from the drug activity. Pawar directed customers to the rooms where drugs were sold, first taking a fee from the customers. Pawar also charged those distributing drugs higher rent than other people renting rooms at the motel.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agree not to seek forfeiture of two other motels owned by Pawar and his relatives: the Everspring Inn on Aurora Avenue North in Seattle and the Rodeway Inn in SeaTac, Washington. However, the agreement states that should there be new evidence of similar illegal conduct at those motels, the government is not precluded from taking action including forfeiture.
The investigation, search and seizure operation was led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Tukwila Police Department. Many additional agencies assisted the investigation, including the U.S. Marshals Service; Department of Homeland Security; Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General; Washington State Patrol; Seattle, Auburn, Kent, Renton, Federal Way, and Port of Seattle Police Departments; Valley SWAT Team; King County Sheriff’s Office; Washington State Department of Corrections; and Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Justin Arnold, Jill Otake and Richard Cohen.