The former owner of a crime-plagued Tukwila motel was sentenced today to one year in prison for allowing the property to become a haven for drug dealing and prostitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Kulwinder “Chris” Saroya, of SeaTac, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to maintain drug-involved premises. In his plea agreement, Saroya, 42, admitted he and his brother, co-defendant Jaspal Singh, profited from drug dealing they allowed at the Travelers Choice Motel and Great Bear Motor Inn.
The motels were two of three Tukwila motels raided by federal law enforcement agents last summer and ultimately seized after police said the owners arranged drug deals and the front-desk clerks charged visitors a fee to direct them to the rooms of tenants who were selling drugs or sex. The third motel was the Boulevard Motel
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Saroya would collect or would direct staff to collect a $10 entry fee for people who came to the motel seeking drugs or sexual services. He would take the money and direct the customer to rooms to purchase drugs or sex.
According to court documents, Saroya told police in 2010 that “normal people will not come to [his] hotel so [he has] to do business with crackheads and prostitutes to make money.”
A federal complaint alleged that there were 223 calls for police service to the 27-room Boulevard Motel between July 1, 2012 and June 20, 2013.
The manager of The Boulevard Motel also pleaded guilty in October to maintaining a drug-involved premises. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Lakhvir Pawar, 41, of Burien, forfeited his interest in the motel and about $90,000 seized in August when the motel and the two others were raided and shut down by federal authorities.
Pawar and Singh are scheduled to be sentenced next month.
The federal lawsuit alleged the “owners of the properties are engaged in, encouraging and making significant cash profits from criminal activity at the Target Motels.” It claimed the owners were involved in money laundering and a series of complex business transactions apparently designed to hide ownership of the businesses.
Tukwila police said the owners of the three motels rejected numerous efforts to clean up the properties.
Prostitution and drugs have been a problem on the Highway 99 strip for at least four decades. Gary L. Ridgway, the Green River killer who pleaded guilty to 49 murders, trolled the area in the early 1980s to find young prey.