No happy ending for Pisasale madam


AN illegal brothel madam sprung by police after being caught up in the Ipswich council corruption probe is battling to overturn her conviction and stay in Australia.

Korean-born Choonhwa "Pam" Lee was found guilty by a Brisbane magistrate in June of running an illegal prostitution business from her Cloud 9 waxing and massage parlour.

The court heard Lee had become a person of interest in the same Crime and Corruption Commission probe that led a string of charges against former Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale.

Investigators began intercepting Lee's mobile phone calls after receiving evidence about her activities, prompting it to raid the large East Brisbane parlour in late 2017.

Choonhwa "Pam" Lee leaving the Brisbane Magistrates Court. Picture: Liam Kidston.

CCC detectives had also been told by Pisasale's former driver that he had to drive the then-mayor to massage parlours, including Cloud 9, sometime in late 2015.

Pisasale is not the only connection Lee has to the CCC investigation - Pisasale's co-accused on a corruption charge is Brisbane barrister Sam Di Carlo, who once represented Lee on an earlier charge.

Di Carlo has previously confirmed representing Lee after police first raided her back in December 2015, but has refused to comment further.

Lee was then charged with possessing $51,400 in cash suspected of being tainted property and carrying on an illegal prostitution business.

The charges were later dropped for unknown reasons.

She was convicted of the same offences last June after fresh charges were laid. Magistrate Tina Previtera in her reasons questioned whether Lee was part of a "bigger enterprise."

She made multiple references to a phone call between a man and Lee in which he coaches her to train a "scared" young Cloud 9 worker like a "new racehorse or a new dog".

In her District Court appeal, Lee argues Ms Previtera erred on multiple points of law, including taking into account a description of Asian workers dressed in skimpy "strappy tops and short dresses".

She argues it was "apt to have discriminated" against Asian women, and all women's "entitlement to dress as they wish."

Lee also argued that her prison sentence of 12 month, wholly suspended, was "manifestly excessive."

The sentence could trigger the cancellation of Lee's visa and deportation under the Migration Act.