Bribed prosecutor involved in love triangle arrested

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Bribed prosecutor involved in love triangle arrested

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The former prosecutor at the center of a firestorm over charges that she received a car and a purse from her lover in return for swaying a lawsuit in his favor was arrested yesterday, the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office said.

A special prosecution team, formed last week by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, said Lee, 36, was arrested at her home at 8 a.m. before being transferred to the Busan office for questioning.

According to prosecutors, Lee allegedly received a Mercedes-Benz sedan, a corporate credit card and a Chanel handbag worth 5.4 million won ($4,677) from a 49-year-old prosecutor-turned-lawyer surnamed Choe who was also her lover. Simultaneously, Choe was also having an affair with a college lecturer, who first notified authorities in an apparent effort to force Choe to end contact with Lee.

In return for the gifts, Lee allegedly asked her colleague in Changwon, South Gyeongsang, to consider a criminal suit in Choe’s favor. Choe had sued two former partners involved in a construction project in China.

“We decided to detain Lee because we’ve determined that Lee might not respond to a summons,” a member of the special prosecution team said. “We’ll try to prove as soon as possible that she received money and valuables in return for controlling the investigation in the attorney’s favor.”

Choe has denied all allegations, saying that Lee returned the sedan and that the handbag was just a gift. Prosecutors said that they were considering cross-examining Lee and Choe and that they would file an arrest warrant for Lee today.

The special prosecution team, which consists of four prosecutors and 10 investigators, are also investigating allegations that another prosecutor in the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office, surnamed Park, sexually harassed a woman who pressed charges against Choe’s other lover, the college lecturer, for theft.

The 39-year-old college lecturer, surnamed Lee, was accused in December 2010 of stealing 70 pieces of high-end clothing from Kim, a 56-year-old woman. But prosecutors say that Choe, who represented Lee as her attorney, is under suspicion for asking the prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Park, to let his lover off the hook.

Prosecutors say that Park asked Kim to come in for questions. There, Park allegedly asked Kim to take off her shirt, telling her that he wanted to check whether her clothes were designer brands. Kim refused, supposedly making Park suspicious that the accuser was not wealthy enough to purchase the dozens of designer brand clothes that she claimed Lee had stolen. Under pressure, Kim eventually unbuttoned her shirt down to her shoulders to show the shirt’s tag. But Park, saying that he couldn’t see the tag, put his face in her armpit.

The special prosecution team said it had secured testimony for the sexual harassment claim from Kim.

“We’re trying to confirm whether Park ran the investigation in Choe’s favor,” the special prosecution team said.

Prosecutors said they had secured documents written by Choe in which Choe promises Lee to illegally lobby the prosecutor in charge of the theft investigation.

“I will meet high-ranking prosecutors and provide entertainment, including golf and expensive drinks, for the trial,” Choe wrote in one document. Lee was already serving probation at the time for another theft case.

Park eventually declined to pursue the latest theft case against Lee, and Lee was acquitted.


By Park Jin-Seok, We Sung-wook [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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