Five Russian immigrants were arrested Friday on charges of running a prostitution ring that prosecutors say involved as many as 50 women and earned up to $8 million over the last two years.
The ringleaders allegedly operated a business called Russian Fortuna. Posing as travel agents, they provided limousine service and escorts, Deputy Dist. Atty. Marcia Daniels said.
They employed Russian women throughout Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, she said.
The business was advertised in the Yellow Pages of phone books, in newspapers and on the Internet.
Arrested were Rimma Fetissova, 42, of Ukraine; Lev Levas, 55, and his son, Mark Levas, 38, both naturalized citizens of the U.S. and originally from Latvia; Elena Piyanzina, 24, of Magnitagorsk, Russia; and Iryna Kovalenko, 37, of Ukraine.
Indictments charge those five, along with Elena Fetissova, 22, of Ukraine, with conspiracy, pimping, pandering and money laundering. Fetissova remains at large.
At an arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, the five pleaded not guilty.
The arrests were the results of a two-year investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.
The next court date was scheduled for Friday, with bail set for the five in amounts ranging from $100,000 to $500,000.