A woman accused of being one of the key figures in Melbourne's illegal sex industry has received a suspended jail term after pleading guilty to paying thousands of dollars in bribes to a corrupt council officer.
Xue Di "Jenny' Yan paid more than $23,000 to a former senior Yarra City Council officer between 2008 and 2010 to warn her of any planned raids on her three brothels.
Yan also pleaded guilty in the County Court to operating as a sex work provider without a licence at premises in Richmond, Burnley and Fitzroy north.
Judge David Parsons sentenced Yan to a 21-month jail term fully suspended for three years and fined her $67,500.
A co-accused, Anton Lu, who pleaded guilty to one charge of bribery and two of operating as a sex work provider without a licence, received a 15-month jail term fully suspended for three years.
The judge said Yan, 51, had been born in Shanghai and after completing the equivalent of year 12 in China worked in a spinning mill and then a restaurant at her father-in-law's home. In 1989, aged 27, she emigrated to Australia on a student visa. She separated from her husband who stayed in China caring for their daughter who was born in 1987.
Yan began an English language course in Melbourne in 1990 and a year later began work in a shoe factory.
Judge Parsons said Yan later gave birth to a son who is now 13. She now works in a Chinese dumpling shop about 40 hours a week.
She is the sole carer of her son who is a gifted pianist and is preparing to apply for a music scholarship at a secondary school.
Judge Parson said he accepted that the corrupt council officer, who cannot be named, instigated the offences.
"He preyed upon your vulnerabilities in order to enlist you as supporters and providers of finance to him over the period of the crime," the judge told Yan and Lu.
"I am satisfied on balance that the chances of the rehabilitation of each of you are reasonably good, particularly in view of your age, current circumstances and also in view of the history of each of you which I have set out in some detail.
"It is clear that this matter has loomed large in your lives over a significant period of time and I have no doubt that as a consequence you have had a significant amount of time to reflect upon what you did and it has brought great cost to you emotionally and financially."
The corrupt council officer, a gambler who needed money to pay debts, pleaded guilty to accepting more than $130,000 in bribes over six years in exchange for warning a number of illegal brothel owners about raids.
He was jailed in November 2011 for three years and two months, with a non-parole period of 20 months.