April 20, 2014

Elyria
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Woman finally serving time for 1992 massage spa case

ELYRIA — The time came Wednesday for Yong Ran Myers, the woman who was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison for helping to run an Elyria brothel in 1992 but never served her time, to serve her sentence.

Myers was found guilty of felony charges for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and promoting prostitution and sentenced to four to 25 years in prison in the early 1990s. She was subsequently released on a $20,000 bond after appealing the decision to the 9th District Court of Appeals.

Yong Ran Myers leans on a railing Wednesday upon hearing she would be heading to prison. Her attorney, Roger Tiktin, is in the background. (CT photo by Chuck Humel.)

Yong Ran Myers leans on a railing Wednesday upon hearing she would be heading to prison. Her attorney, Roger Tiktin, is in the background. (CT photo by Chuck Humel.)

While the initial decision was ultimately upheld by the appeals court, Myers was never called to serve the sentence. In what appears to be a clerical error, her case escaped notice and memory until earlier this year when the Ohio Reformatory for Women discovered the oversight.

Myers, a petite woman who doesn’t speak English well, visibly slackened at her lawyer’s explanation of the judge’s ruling for her to serve her sentence “immediately.”

She was taken to the Ohio Reformatory for Women, despite requests from her attorney Roger Tiktin to have “a couple of days” to put her affairs in order.

According to court documents, Myers was an employee at the Shang Hai massage parlor, which offered sexual services to clients for prices ranging from $30 to $100.

The spa was owned by Cham Pun Gasser, who received a sentence of seven to 25 years in prison after being convicted, court documents showed.

Prosecutors maintained that Myers helped run the spa based on evidence showing that in addition to working and living at the Shang Hai, Myers also helped maintain the books, purchased condoms and paid bills in Gasser’s absence.

According to court documents, no warrant was ever issued for Myers’ arrest, so if she had ever had a run-in with law enforcement, she wouldn’t have been taken into custody. But, according to a background check run by the prosecution, aside from a single parking citation, Myers has kept her record clean for the past 19 years.

Tiktin, who defended Myers in the earlier case, argued to the judge that the case was a matter of equity, citing Myers’ life as a “model citizen” since her initial indictment, and that she was “not a problem to anyone,” now or then, as there were no victims in the original case. Titkin also made the case that this would be an unnecessary burden to taxpayers to jail her now.

Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery upheld the initial ruling.

“Your arguments have some resonance with me,” Rothgery said Wednesday, but continued that the law did not allow him to modify the sentence from 1992, as the process had already been set in motion.

Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said that under the law, Rothgery had no choice but to order Myers to prison.

“It was an executed sentence which left the court with no ability to alter it at all,” he said.

“The judge had no choice to do what he did,” Tiktin said after the decision Wednesday. But he stressed that Myers had never fled and had lived a life free of crime since the decision was made, unlike another employee at the Shang Hai who testified for prosecutors in the original case.

Myers had been convicted and sentenced before she was released on bond in the early 1990s and was then eligible for shock probation, which essentially would have granted her an early release from prison. Because Myers had already applied and been rejected for that option, she could not legally apply for it again.

Will did say that Myers will be eligible for a good time reduction of her sentence and parole in the future.

“It’s not right,” said Hannah Lee, a friend who collected Myers’ purse and keys as she was escorted from the courtroom.

Lee met Myers after her initial appeal years ago, when Myers promised her that she would never again “do what she had done.”

Since her initial indictment, Myers has raised a family in Cleveland and maintained employment at a Cleveland beauty shop.

Staff writer Brad Dicken contributed to this report. Contact Emily Kennedy at 329-7243 or ekennedy@chroniclet.com.