B.C. billionaire pleads guilty to confining prostitute
Published Friday, February 3, 2012 8:19AM EST
A Vancouver billionaire who pleaded guilty Thursday to forcibly confining a sex worker and possessing an unlicensed firearm has been sentenced to one year of probation and a $5,000 fine.
The charges stemmed from a night in December, 2008 when police were called to a mansion owned by David Ho, a former member of the Vancouver police board. Ho, 60, had picked up the 20-year-old woman in Delta, and the two returned to his home in an upscale neighbourhood to have sex and allegedly smoke cocaine.
When the woman tried to leave, Ho stopped her, telling the court it was cold outside and he was worried about her health. After a struggle, the woman broke her ankle, eventually calling her father for help, pleading "Dad, help me. I'm on a bad date." The woman also made a 911 call at about 4:45 a.m. that morning.
Wearing only her underwear, the woman eventually escaped onto the street, where she climbed an eight-foot fence and ran to a nearby house. Security cameras at the Hong Kong business mogul's home captured the entire fracas.
When police arrived, they found an unregistered Glock nine-millimetre pistol. He was taken into custody and released on $100,000 bail.
On Thursday, the divorced father of three -- who got rich on tobacco in Hong Kong, and once owned a Pepsi bottling plant and a luxury car dealership in Vancouver -- entered his guilty plea at Vancouver Provincial Court.
In addition to forcible confinement and the weapons charge, Ho also pleaded guilty to breaching previous bail conditions. He'd been caught carrying a switchblade knife at the Vancouver International Airport in February 2011, but claimed he forgot he had it with him.
A previous charge of cocaine possession was dropped as part of a plea deal.
Addressing the court, Ho apologized to the victim, even though she was not there. Justice Thomas Gove sentenced him to probation and handed him the fine. He will also be required to attend drug counselling sessions and perform community service.
Ho immigrated to Vancouver in 1985, and purchased the University Golf Club and MCL Motors shortly thereafter. He launched Harmony Airways in 2002, but shut it down five years later.
In a 2009 interview with the Vancouver Province, Ho said that he loved helping out errant young women in the city's downtrodden Downtown Eastside. He was once pulled over by police with prostitutes and what appeared to be cocaine in his car, but said his only vice was offering kindness to women in need.
"I am addicted to helping them," he said.
With files from CTV's British Columbia