AG: Florida business owner arrested for operating 6 massage parlors in Western Pa.
A Pensacola, Fla., man is facing federal charges of operating a human trafficking ring under the guise of massage parlors in Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia, including six in Western Pennsylvania.
David C. Williams, 41, of Pensacola was arrested and charged with using interstate facilities for purposes of racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the harboring of illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain by U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe, of the Northern District of Florida, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office.
Agents from Shapiro’s office, Pennsylvania State Police and the Pittsburgh FBI executed nine search warrants Thursday in Turtle Creek, Carnegie, Jeannette, Bridgeville, Erie, and McKees Rocks, as a result of the investigation into the organization’s operations in Pennsylvania, Shapiro said.
Agents in Florida also executed multiple federal search warrants in Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Gainesville.
Williams allegedly was exploiting undocumented women and offering sexual acts for money during massages at his parlors. The investigation originated from a tip received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The investigation continues.
“The defendant allegedly used his businesses to exploit women in several different states and force them into prostitution purely to line his own pockets,” Shapiro said in a news release.
“Thanks to strong collaboration with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we have put an end to this criminal enterprise and are seeking justice for the defendant’s victims,” Shapiro said.
The parlors searched here were Massage 10 in Jeannette, Ci Ci Wellness in Turtle Creek; Thai Massage in Carnegie and Thai Massage in Bridgeville. Agents also searched 1407 Peninsula Massage in Erie.
Multiple state police patrol cars were seen outside the Jeannette business along Route 30 Thursday afternoon, but troopers declined to disclose their reason for being at the business.
The court documents remained under seal Friday afternoon in Florida. Williams is scheduled to appear Tuesday for a detention hearing in Pensacola , according to court dockets.
In March, Shapiro’s office announced the arrest of four people on charges of prostitution and human trafficking at five Monroeville and Murrysville businesses.
Four people were charged with various counts including conspiracy, corrupt organizations, trafficking in individuals, prostitution and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities after a statewide grand jury found that young women working at the parlors were part of a human trafficking ring forced to perform sex acts.
Hui Xu, 44, of Mt. Pleasant owned and operated four Tokyo Massage Parlors where prostitution was occurring, according to the grand jury. She is the widow of Henry “Sonny” Caruso, 49, a veteran guard at the Westmoreland County Prison who committed suicide in November after being suspended from his job as a result of the ongoing investigation.
Others accused of participating in the operation are Chang Yu Chen, 51, of Monroeville, who was described as a handyman and manager at the parlors; Huicun Wei, 47, of Flushing, N.Y., whom Shapiro and state police identified as the owner and manager at Judy’s Oriental Massage Parlor in Murrysville; and Robert Delano Yerick, 83, of Delmont, who was described as an administrator and handyman.
All are awaiting trial.
Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg in Florida is prosecuting the case against Williams.
In addition to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations and multiple law enforcement agencies in Florida were involved in the investigation.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .