A Flushing, N.Y., woman accused of owning and operating the now defunct Judy’s Oriental Massage Parlor in Murrysville waived her right to a preliminary hearing Friday on charges the business was actually part of a human trafficking operation where prostitution was occurring.
Huican Wei, 47, will now proceed to trial in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court on multiple charges including operating a corrupt organization, criminal conspiracy, dealing in illegal proceeds, intent to promote prostitution, operating a house of prostitution and trafficking individuals for financial benefit.
At the district judge’s office in Norvelt, Senior District Judge Eileen Conroy of Allegheny County remanded Wei to the Westmoreland County Prison where she has been held since March 22 after failing to post $75,000 bail after her arrest by state police and the attorney general’s office.
Wei and her private attorney, Jesse Chen of Pittsburgh, have declined comment.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Katherine A. Wymard said that Wei used to be a worker in Xu’s parlors. Wymard also said the authorities are still looking to arrest a fifth person, a woman, who also resides in Flushing, who allegedly was involved in the operation of the parlors.
A statewide grand jury in March alleged that young Asian women worked at Wei’s parlor and four others in Monroeville and Murrysville operated by Hui Wu, 44, of Mt. Pleasant. After a year-long investigation the grand jury alleged that the parlors were part of a human trafficking ring where workers were forced to perform sex acts.
Xu 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.
Xu also briefly appeared before Conroy, who continued her scheduled preliminary hearing on an unrelated charge of intimidating a witness in the case.
Xu was released from the Washington County Jail on April 22 to be on home electronic monitoring, but Murrysville police accused her of making several social media posts from her Shady Street home after her release. She was ordered back to the Washington County Jail by acting District Judge Charles Christner.
Officer Matthew Panigal, who assisted state police and the attorney general’s office in the investigation, said Xu directed complaints toward a co-defendant Robert Delano Yerick, 83, of Delmont, who was described as an administrator and handyman at Xu’s businesses.
Police allege Xu posted that Yerick was going to testify against her and referred to him as a “liar” and a “beast.”
“Yerick … lied to the attorney general,” Panigal quoted Xu as writing in the posts.
A fourth defendant, Chang Yu Chen, 51, of Monroeville, who also was described as a handyman and manager at the parlors, was freed from the county prison after posting $75,000 bail from a bail bondsman. Yerick is free on $30,000 bail.
After the arrests, Murrysville officials last month moved to keep the massage parlors from potentially reopening by suspending their occupancy permits alleging they were conducting illegal operations.
Xu’s hearing on the new complaint will be May 24.