Prosecutors file for joint trial for Winfield couple accused of running prostitution ring

Prosecutors filed Thursday to try a Winfield couple together who are accused of running a prostitution ring out of their massage parlors and funneling cash through a local casino.

A hearing on that motion is set for June 27.

Wujiao Liu, 46, a woman, and Guan Yu, 45, a man, appeared briefly in court Thursday with their attorneys Ben Murphy, J. Michael Woods, respectively, and a Mandarin Chinese interpreter. Deputy Prosecutor Maureen Koonce represented the state of Indiana.

Their trials are currently set to start Aug. 19.

Guan Yu is charged with promotion of human trafficking, a Level 4 felony; promoting prostitution, a Level 5 felony; and failure to remit taxes held in trust, a Level 6 felony, according to a nine-page affidavit.

Wujiao Liu is charged with the same, plus money laundering, and battery against a public safety official, both Level 6 felonies.

The investigation started on Jan. 2, 2023, when the Winfield Police Department got “multiple” anonymous tips that Jade Massage, 9001 E. 109th Ave., was an outlet for prostitution. The affidavit notes a building inspector found condoms in the draining system.

An undercover detective also visited Relax Massage, 1451 Summit St. in Crown Point, on June 22, fitting the same pattern. It had the “same owners,” according to the affidavit. There, a woman signaled that sex acts were available.

The couple also owned Sakura KJ restaurant, 204 S. Main St. in Crown Point and Yamato sushi restaurant, 10819 Randolph St., in Winfield. Authorities found the two massage parlors were not properly registered with the state to pay sales tax. The two restaurants were underreporting, with each claiming $0 cash income.

Authorities accused Liu of going to the Hard Rock Casino — sometimes twice a day — and “always” leaving with uncashed casino chips bought with cash, according to the criminal affidavit.

That was a money laundering tactic to skip out on taxes, according to the affidavit. Chips can be returned later for cash.

In total, she spent over $1.5 million since the casino opened in 2021, court records show. Her visits fit a pattern — “extremely large cash buy-ins,” small losses, and cashing in $100,000 less than she had.