An Indian-origin couple has been arrested for allegedly running a high-end prostitution ring in the United States by luring at least five actresses from Tollywood and advertising them for sex at Indian conferences and cultural events across the country, according to a media report.
The prostitution scheme was masterminded by Kishan Modugumudi, 34, an Indian businessman who rose to become a player in the Telugu film industry and co-produced several hit films, Chicago Tribune reported.
The ring charged clients up to $3,000 (Rs 2.04 lakh) for each sexual encounter, according to a 42-page criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Chicago.
Modugumudi and his wife Chandra, 31, also allegedly kept detailed ledgers of the sex acts performed by each girl, including where they occurred and how much they collected, the report said.
While on temporary visas, at least five actresses were sometimes forced to stay in a dingy, two-storey apartment building in Chicago’s Belmont Cragin neighbourhood waiting for their next “date,” the charges alleged. They also met clients in hotels at conferences in Dallas, New Jersey and Washington.
The complaint alleged that Modugumudi threatened the life of one of the actresses and her family if she told law enforcement the truth about what she did while in the country.
Modugumudi told the woman, identified in the charges only as Victim A, that “it would be nothing for him to harm her if she talked to the police about him because she is small and unknown, not a big actress,” the complaint alleged.
“(He) further stated he had a copy of her passport with her family’s name and address in it,” the report added.
Federal agents discovered the ledgers when they searched the Modugumudis’ apartment in the 5700 block of West Belden Avenue in February, according to the complaint.
Modugumudi and his wife have been in federal custody since agents arrested them in late April in suburban Washington, on a warrant, records show.
At a detention hearing last week in federal court in Chicago, the couple, dressed in jail clothes, listened to the proceedings through a Telugu interpreter.
Attorney Molly Armour, who represents Modugumudi, told the judge she had been trying to find a place for the couple to live so they could be freed on bail but that so far she had been unsuccessful.
US Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez ordered them to remain in custody for the time being. The couple’s two school-age children, meanwhile, are in the custody of child welfare officials in Virginia.
The Telugu film industry, popularly known as Tollywood, is one of the oldest and busiest in India.
Image used for representational purposes. Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters