Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania: Massage Parlor Owner Faces Deportation after Human Trafficking Plea

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Hui Xu, a 46-year-old Chinese national and owner of a massage parlor in Mt. Pleasant, pled guilty to a human trafficking charge in late 2019. Now she moves to revoke the guilty plea, stating that she did not understand English and her previous criminal attorney failed to have a translator during their plea deal. On June 14, a federal immigration judge ordered Xu’s deportation from the United States.

Xu testified that she did not fully understand the impact of her plea deal. Her guilty plea resulted in a sentence of more than one year in jail for operating massage parlors that served as homes for prostitution. Xu was on her path to U.S. citizenship and accepted the plea deal without knowing the consequence of the criminal conviction would be deportation.

Xu’s new defense attorney, James DePasquale, held that her immigration hearing could be reversed if the guilty plea verdict is changed. Xu, who was held in Washington and Cambria County Prison, was paroled once the Chinese government refused to allow her to enter the country.

Facing Deportation after Human Trafficking Charge

Xu, also known as “Sherry Caruso,” owned and operated four Tokyo massage parlors in Murrysville, Delmont, and Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Prosecutors said that Xu, along with her husband, Henry “Sonny” Caruso, conspired and operated a human trafficking ring. They also laundered proceeds from this business.

Xu would regularly bring women from China and make them work as sex workers in their massage parlors. These women lived in deplorable conditions and were rotated among the various massage parlors. The women were also shifted to a fifth parlor, which was owned by Xu’s former employees. According to investigators, women were brought in through an organized network that ran through Flushing, New York.

Caruso, 49, a former jail guard of Westmoreland County Prison, committed suicide in 2018 when Xu admitted her guilt. Caruso, if alive, would have been charged for his role in this operation.

Guilty Plea Appeal Due to Language Barrier

Xu’s appeal claimed that her former defense lawyer, Anastasia Williams, did not use a translator while preparing the written documents and while preparing the jury trial process. Xu claimed that she failed to understand her legal rights and that she remained misinformed. Appearing by telephone, Williams testified that she was careful in explaining her plea deal to Xu and had a Mandarin translator present during all conversations – both private and at the courtroom. “I did not specifically go through a guilty plea petition because of the language barrier,” Williams testified.

Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Scott Mears ordered attorneys for Xu and the prosecution to submit written legal arguments. The judge is to decide on Xu’s appeal sometime this year.

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