SPRINGFIELD – A man and woman charged with sex trafficking and money laundering at two Springfield massage parlors are expected to be arraigned in Hampden Superior Court on April 30.
Liu Yang, 61, of Springfield, and Steven C. Forsley, 65, of Bernardston, were indicted on April 2 on charges of trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, money laundering, deriving support from prostitution, conspiracy to traffic persons for sexual servitude and keeping house of ill fame.
The indictments, issued by a statewide grand jury, came nine weeks after the pair were arrested for allegedly running a prostitution and money laundering operation at the Day Spa at 78 Maple St. and the Health and Relaxation Spa at 803 Belmont Ave. in Springfield.
The massage parlors reaped about $100,000 in profits during the six months they were under scrutiny, investigators allege. Two sex trafficking victims, a large amount of cash, and two vehicles were confiscated when police raided the two businesses and the suspects’ homes on Jan. 23, according to court documents.
Yang and Forsley were held on $20,000 cash bail following their arraignment in Springfield District Court. Upon release, they were ordered to submit to GPS monitoring, surrender their passports, and have no contact with each other or witnesses in the case.
Forsley remained in custody until posting bail on Jan. 29. Yang was released after posting bail on Feb. 2, records show.
The defendants face a minimum of five years in prison if convicted on human trafficking charges, Assistant Attorney General Amy Karangekis said during their bail hearings.
Yang owns both spas, and frequently transported Asian women from Flushing, New York, to Springfield to work in her businesses. The women often slept at the Belmont Avenue spa and “rarely, if ever” were seen leaving the spa without Yang, the prosecutor said.
Male clients would usually visit the spas for 30 to 60 minutes, and allegedly paid $100 for massages. Only young Asian women worked there, according to Karangekis, who said ads for both spas were placed on Backpage.com. Federal authorities shut down the website earlier this month, alleging it facilitated prostitution and sex trafficking of minors across the country.
At a pretrial hearing last week in district court, a prosecutor told Judge Robert Murphy that the defendants have been indicted by a state grand jury and are scheduled for arraigned in Hampden Superior Court on April 30.
Yang, a native of China, appeared at the hearing with defense lawyer Bernard O’Connor. A Mandarin interpreter was also present, at Yang’s request.