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Court overturns hotel owners' acquittals

February 09, 2008

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - A federal appeals court has overturned a ruling that acquitted two West Virginia motel operators and a corporation on money laundering and other charges related to a prostitution ring.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., ruled Friday that late U.S. District Judge W. Craig Broadwater erred in 2006 when he acquitted Dilipkumar Somabhai "Dan" Patel and Surendra D. "Sam" Singh of money laundering, conspiracy and inducing women to travel across state lines for illegal interstate commerce in violation of the Mann Act. Broadwater allowed their convictions on other Mann Act violations to stand.

Friday's ruling also overturned Broadwater's decision to grant Jalaram Inc. a new trial.

Singh owned and managed the Economy Inn, while Patel managed the Jalaram-owned Scottish Inns, both along U.S. 11 in Martinsburg. Prosecutors said both Martinsburg residents made their inns available to a prostitution business known as The Gold Club, which used prostitutes from West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia.

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At one point during the proceedings, Broadwater called the case a mess and doubted it would get any better. Broadwater died in December 2006.

In its decision, the appeals court sent the case back to U.S. District Court in Martinsburg so Patel and Singh could be sentenced on the reinstated charges.

In July 2006, both men were sentenced to up to a year in federal prison on the other charges. Broadwater also ordered Singh to forfeit $150,000 and his interest in the Economy Inn. Patel was ordered to forfeit $27,000. Singh had appealed that ruling, but the 4th Circuit did not rule on his appeal, saying the issue was moot.

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