L.A. City Attorney Feldstein Soto looking to dismantle ‘prostitution hub’ at South L.A. motel

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The office of Los Angeles City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto has filed a lawsuit against the owners and operator of a motel in South Los Angeles that has served as a “hub for prostitution” for several years.

According to the official complaint, the 16-unit New Gage Motel, located on the corner of West Gage Avenue and South Figueroa Street, is situated in the Figueroa corridor, described by the city attorney’s office as “one of California’s most notorious prostitution tracks.”

The property has a “near-constant” circulation of sex workers, customers, pimps and traffickers, the City Attorney’s Office said.

“Prostitution and violence are thriving at New Gage Motel, and this property has participated in and played an active role in facilitating the sex trafficking operation that has engulfed this corridor for far too long,” City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto said.

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The LAPD has conducted more than a dozen vice investigations at the New Gage Motel since 2017 which have led to 16 prostitution-related arrests. LAPD investigations continued to reveal that the motel was still being used as a “prostitution hub” as recently as Aug. 2023, the complaint said.

“In addition, the property has been a magnet for violence and lawlessness, with armed robberies, assaults with deadly weapons and brutal muggings taking place during the last four months alone,” the City Attorney’s Office said.

Prosecutors from Feldstein Soto’s office, along with LAPD officials, met with representatives of the company that owns and operates the New Gage Motel, Rish Investments Inc., in March 2022 to discuss how to curb the illicit activity.

According to the complaint, Rish Investments Inc. Chief Executive Officer Rajesh Patel and Chief Financial Officer and Secretary Hitandra Bhakta were asked by prosecutors and LAPD officers to implement a “variety of physical and managerial measures to abate the nuisance.”

“Specific requests included prohibiting hourly room rentals, installing a gate around the driveway to control access, installing security cameras in common areas and giving LAPD access to them, employing daily security patrols and hiring new management to enforce these best practices,” the complaint said.

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The measures requested by city officials were not implemented by the owners and operator of the New Gage Motel – which now includes another man, Gazi Monirul Islam – more than a year later, and Feldstein Soto’s office believes that the criminal activity has grown more violent and volatile due to the owners’ lack of action.

“To abate the alarming nuisance once and for all, the City Attorney’s lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and civil penalties against the defendants to change the way they manage and equip the property,” the City Attorney’s Office said. “In addition, the lawsuit seeks to enjoin and prevent violations of the Unfair Competition Law at the property based on unlawful business practices used to operate [the business] and to impose civil penalties stemming from these unlawful business practices.”

The litigation is being managed by Deputy City Attorneys in the newly formed Public Rights Branch of the City Attorney’s Office, which was created by Feldstein Soto to “protect and enforce the rights of California residents” in a variety of legal matters, ranging from unfair or fraudulent business practices to consumer protection, environmental justice, nuisance abatement and intellectual property.

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