BEVERLY — A lawyer representing a South Korean couple charged with human trafficking told a judge Thursday that his clients are ready to try to make a deal with prosecutors in the case.
Wooryong Heo, 29, and Hayun Nam, 30, had been living in an apartment at 480 Rantoul St. in Beverly when they were arrested back in February, following a four-month investigation by state police and the attorney general's office.
Prosecutors say the couple were operating a "brothel" out of a rented apartment in Salem, where young women were brought to stay from outside of the United States.
They say Heo, who has family in Flushing, New York, was seen making trips to and from South Station with young women, who, once at the apartment, were not allowed to come and go on their own.
Investigators say they interviewed some of the "customers" who were seen leaving. They also reported seeing the couple come and go with food and taking out the trash.
Steven Kim, who now represents both Heo and Nam, told a judge on Thursday that he intends to meet with prosecutors within the next month to discuss a possible resolution of the case short of trial.
Kim had originally represented just Nam, and has said previously that his clients were "patsies" who were lured into the business while saving to open their own nail salon.
Nam is currently held without bail at MCI Framingham; Heo has posted $75,000 bail.
Besides human trafficking, the couple are facing charges of deriving support from and maintaining a house of prostitution, money laundering, identity fraud and conspiracy. They have pleaded not guilty.
The hearing Thursday was originally scheduled for a request from Kim to be allowed to represent both Heo and Nam.
Generally, it is considered a conflict of interest for a single lawyer to represent co-defendants in a case, unless a defendant voluntarily agrees to such an arrangement after being advised of his or her rights by a judge. An interpreter had been brought in for the hearing.
But due to the late arrival of a transportation van from MCI Framingham, where Nam is being held, the hearing began shortly before the interpreter had to leave. A new hearing was scheduled for Oct. 23.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.