Dr. accused of pimping: 'I don't know what you're talking about'
BELLEVUE, Wash. -- A Bellevue anesthesiologist is taking an immediate voluntary leave of absence as federal investigators continue to build a case against him alleging he ran a large prostitution ring using young women smuggled from Thailand and housed in several of Bellevue's ritziest high rises.
In an affidavit in federal court filed July 18, the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle tells a judge they've done undercover operations, shot surveillance video and have uncovered bank transactions involving Bellevue anesthesiologist Eric Jay Smith. The U.S. Attorney has not yet filed charges while they seek permission to seize Smith's computers.
Until Wednesday, Smith worked for an anesthesiology service called Matrix Anesthesia that contracts with Overlake Hospital. Neither Matrix nor Overlake would comment.
Smith lives in the 23rd floor penthouse of a luxury high rise in downtown Bellevue called Washington Square. He declined to go on camera, but said over the telephone "I don't know what you're talking about and if I did, I wouldn't comment."
The U.S. Attorney's affidavit accuses Smith's close female associate of smuggling young women into Washington from Thailand. Investigators claim Smith then put the young women up in several high end apartments around Bellevue where, they say, the sex acts took place.
The buildings are Avalon Towers, Avalon Meydenbauer and AMLI. Smith allegedly took out advertisements for the young women on sex business sites like backpage.com and eros.com. The affidavit says investigators traced the online purchase of those ads to Smith and allege he initially used his own name before switching to "Jesse Blue."
The Drug Enforcement Agency says it sent in undercover agents more than once, and have videotaped proof of Smith accepting cash.
Federal investigators say the doctor used BECU ATM machines at a busy downtown Bellevue intersection on Bellevue Way and 2nd Street to deposit thousands of dollars in cash from the prostitution ring and launder the money.
Investigators say his deposits totaled $426,000 in one year alone. They tracked his transfers to two banks in Thailand. Those accounts, the feds say, belong to the close associate accused of smuggling the girls out of Thailand and into Bellevue's gleaming high rises.
The affidavit gives no indication that the Thai women were here against their will. In fact, a confidential witness is quoted saying some of the women enjoyed a luxury lifestyle and sent money back to their families in Thailand.
The DEA agent on the case wrote in the affidavit that "I believe that Eric Smith is engaged or involved in using a facility of interstate commerce with intent to promote mange, carry on, or facilitate prostitution and laundering of money," "utilized (bank accounts) to launder proceeds from the prostitution operation...(and)to further the prostitution operation."