Court battle over assets of massage parlor owner accused of human trafficking

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - New information was revealed in court Wednesday about massage parlors in Madison and Morgan Counties that state Attorney General Steve Marshall calls a human trafficking front.

The AG asked the court to ban the owners of TY Green's Massage Therapy Inc. from doing business in the state. This week court hearings have been held in the civil case. But there are still many questions -- like why no criminal charges have been filed in the matter.

It's been months since massage parlor owners Yuping  Tang and her daughter Jaio Liu had their assets frozen and businesses shut down. Back in April, AG Marshall was granted a temporary restraining order to shut down massage parlors under their company Ty Green Massage Therapy Inc.

Yuping and Jaio are accused of using the massage businesses as a front for a human trafficking operation.  Marshall says Chinese employees were forced to work long hours, and some were expected to engage in sex acts with customers.

The court-appointed a receiver was to take control of the businesses until a preliminary injunction hearing could be held. An attorney representing Jaio filed a motion to remove the receiver, Jeffrey Schneider, a Florida-based attorney. Jaio's defense team says he quote, "contemptuously and unlawfully seized and/or converted approximately $28,000.00 from alleged victims."  This is something defense attorney say violates the law and court order.

Schneider took the stand. He admitted taking money out of the wallet of an employee. Schneider also told the court he was ordered to seize all of the company's assets, adding it was not his job to determine ownership during the process.

He says he secured $261,000 in April -- $61,000 of that was cash. The other $200,000 was from corporate bank accounts.

Part of what the court has ordered Schneider to do is manage the company's expenses. The company's overhead, including rent for commercial spaces and a mortgage, is $15,000 a month. The business is currently not operating. Defense attorneys said at that rate, the assets would be depleted in 10 months. Defense attorneys also estimated that Schneider's fees have already totaled somewhere between $60,000 and $80,000. It is unclear who pays that bill.

Schnider says in his 25 years of experience, the amount of cash seized and the length of time it has taken to have a hearing for the preliminary injunction is unique. He says the preliminary injunction generally takes place ten days after assets are secured. At that time who owns which assets can be determined.

The hearing for the preliminary injunction began on Monday and resumed Wednesday.

Marshall said the civil action was important to keep the suspects from moving and hiding victims, as well as to stop them from disposing of or transferring assets.

Jaio takes the stand

Wednesday Jaio was called to the stand. During a round of questioning, she revealed her mother is in China and has been in China since February. Jaio also explained that a home was bought for employees who work at the massage parlors. Prosecutors used bank records to show the home was paid for in cash. Jaio said two employees and friends of her mother loaned her family cash so they could pay for the house.

Former clients say they never experienced inappropriate behavior at massage parlors

Attorneys for Jaio asked a Huntsville man who owns a chiropractic clinic to provide testimony. The man explained he has been frequenting massage parlors owned by TY Green's Massage Therapy Inc. for approximately ten years. He said during that time he got massages at the three Huntsville locations. He said employees never approached him to take inappropriate actions and he never experienced sexual touching on the premises. He also said there is a sign asking all clients to keep their undergarments on during the massage. His wife also was called to the witness stand. She said she never experienced any inappropriate behavior and most of the clientele she observed were women.

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