Spa robber pleads no contest, avoids life-in-prison sentence

One of three men accused of terrorizing two women during a brazen San Mateo day-spa heist avoided a life-in-prison sentence after accepting a plea deal Wednesday.

Scott Tong, 24, of San Francisco, will face a minimum of 12 years in prison and a maximum of 29 years and four months when he is sentenced June 4, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Tong pleaded no contest to four counts of robbery and one count of residential burglary and admitted to using a gun in the crime. In exchange, prosecutors dropped four counts of kidnapping, two counts of false imprisonment, a commercial burglary charge and four additional counts of robbery.

Prosecutors say Tong and two other men — Samuel Lim and Derek Wong — burst into the Belbian Day Spa with guns on June 11, 2006, just as two employees were closing up. The robbers bound and blindfolded the women and put duct tape over their mouths, Wagstaffe said. The men then took the employees to separate rooms and threatened to kill them before taking cash, cell phones and keys, Wagstaffe said.

“There was an incredible fear suffered by the victims. It’s not too much different than what we read about insurgents doing with their kidnap victims in Iraq. They engaged in terrorist conduct,” Wagstaffe said.

Tong is the last of the three men to accept a plea deal. On Feb. 14, a judge sentenced Wong, a 21-year-old San Bruno resident, to five years in prison. Lim, an 18-year-old San Francisco man, was sentenced on March 14 to nine years behind bars.

Reached Wednesday, one of the victims of the robbery said she had no comment on Tong’s plea deal, but said she believes a former employee set up the heist and that the woman should also face charges.

After arresting the three men, authorities found a detailed map of the spa’s interior, but prosecutors were never able to conclusively tie the robbery to the former employee, Wagstaffe said.

tbarak@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott listens at a rally to commemorate the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside City Hall on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Will the Biden Administration help SF speed up police reform?

City has struggled to implement changes without federal oversight

The SFMTA cut all but 17 bus lines in April last year due to the pandemic and has been slow to bring them back due to budget deficit and continuing low ridership. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)
Supes urge SFMTA to expedite restoration of Muni lines

Resolution emphasizes focus on seniors, individuals with disabilities and community routes

Lowell High School (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Students, families call for culture shift at Lowell after racist incident

District to explore changes including possible revision of admissions policy

Alan Wong was among California National Guard members deployed to Sacramento to provide security the weekend before the presidential inauguration. (Courtesy photo)
CCSF board member tests positive for COVID-19 after National Guard deployment

Alan Wong spent eight days in Sacramento protecting State Capitol before Inauguration Day

Due to a lack of votes in his favor, record-holding former Giant Barry Bonds (pictured at tribute to Willie McCovey in 2018) will not be entering the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the near future.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Ex-Giants star Barry Bonds again falls short of Hall of Fame

After striking out yet again in his bid to join Major League… Continue reading

Most Read