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Feds seize massage parlor allegedly used as brothel

A Towson woman will forfeit a building on Joppa Road where police say she ran a house of prostitution, but a deal struck with federal prosecutors allows her to keep five other properties in Baltimore.

Di Zhang, 43, will also pay $325,000 as part of a settlement of a federal civil forfeiture case over property connected to her alleged prostitution and human-trafficking activities, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Zhang still faces criminal charges in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Her trial on the prostitution and human-trafficking charges, which was scheduled to begin Tuesday, was postponed until September.

The civil and criminal cases stem from a March 2013 raid on Zhang's massage parlor, Jade Heart Health, at 1404 E. Joppa Road in Towson. Police said employees provided sex to customers both on the premises and during "outcalls" to area hotels. Zhang and her boyfriend, Yi Dian Dong, 65, were arrested.

Federal prosecutors also initiated forfeiture proceedings after the raid, seeking to seize not just the massage parlor but four houses and an office building in Baltimore that they allege were purchased with the proceeds from prostitution and human trafficking. Defense lawyers in the federal forfeiture cases did not return calls for comment.

The total cost of the real estate, located in Charles Village and Oakenshawe, was nearly $1 million, property records show, and it was paid for largely in cash.

Rod J. Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for Maryland, said Tuesday that the office chose a $325,000 payment in lieu of the Baltimore properties to resolve the case rather than proceed with what could have been a lengthy litigation process.

Under the terms of the settlement, the government will take possession of the Joppa Road building. State property assessment records show it was bought by one of Zhang's corporations, DZD LLC, in 2006 for $475,000.

Zhang has been arrested multiple times on prostitution and related charges. She was arrested again in February after a woman told police she was working as a prostitute for her from a motel room in Gaithersburg.

She is scheduled to go to trial on prostitution and human-trafficking charges in Montgomery County Circuit Court next month.

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