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Woodland Hills man facing federal charges for extorting protection money from Koreatown karaoke bars

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CBS News Los Angeles Live

A San Fernando Valley man faces federal charges of extortion after an investigation found that he was allegedly demanding protection money from karaoke businesses in Koreatown. 

According to a release from the United States Attorney's Office, Daekun Cho, 38, was arrested by officers with both Homeland Security and the Los Angeles Police Department last week. 

During the course of their nearly year-long investigation, Cho was found to be "demanding protection money from karaoke businesses in Koreatown, as well as from 'doumi' — or hostesses — employed by patrons of the karaoke establishments," the statement said. 

"To further his extortion scheme, Cho committed shootings, a carjacking, a kidnapping and other acts of physical violence," a complaint affidavit referred to in the statement said. "Cho made explicit threatening statements to the doumi drivers and karaoke bar owners to get them to pay a monthly fee."

According to the affidavit, Cho is also alleged to have physically assaulted four victims over the past year. 

"The first victim discussed in the affidavit was a doumi driver, who, after refusing to pay the protection money after a price increase, was subject to a baseball bat beating, allegedly by Cho and another individual, on May 8, 2021," the release said. "The victim suffered a broken arm and multiple lacerations."

The statement also refers to another incident that occurred on August 5, 2022, where Cho "demanded that a doumi driver leave the location, and, as the driver and two doumis were driving away, they heard gunshots and one of the doumis suffered a gunshot wound to the neck."

This incident remains under investigation by LAPD. 

A fifth victim, who told investigators that he had been paying Cho for nearly four years, said that he decided to stop paying after he was assaulted and robbed of around $1,000 by Cho on January 24. 

"The affidavit details how that victim, working with law enforcement, made an extortionate $500 payment to Cho on February 16," the statement said. 

Cho, who was scheduled to make his first appearance in court on Thursday, faces charges of interfering with commerce by threats or violence. The charge could carry a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.

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