Prostitution case presented to Victoria grand jury
July 11, 2014 at 7:11 a.m.
Updated July 12, 2014 at 7:12 a.m.
Several months after two cases were dismissed in federal court, the man who ran a Victoria spa that officials say was a ruse for a prostitution ring may face criminal charges again.
A grand jury on the state level was presented Thursday with the case of Shaoyun Qu, a Chinese national accused of aggravated promotion of prostitution.
He was being held in the Victoria County Jail on Friday on that charge, but because the indictment was not scanned into the Victoria County District Clerk's Office on Friday afternoon, it was unclear whether that was the exact wording of the charge or whether there were additional counts.
Criminal District Attorney Stephen Tyler could not be reached for comment.
Qu, 41, was arrested alongside Sixiu Li at the Q Spa in Rockport on Oct. 29.
The Victoria Police Department, along with a myriad of state and federal law enforcement agencies, raided the spas and several residences in Houston and Rockport then.
They found cash, 50 Chinese birth certificates and about 350 condoms, according to federal court documents.
Two other women, Rong Yu Li and Su-Fang Liu, were arrested at the Foot Spa, 2806 N. Navarro St. Suite J, on suspicion of engaging in organized criminal activity.
Liu traveled to the U.S. from Taiwan and was originally in Chicago before coming to Victoria in September.
When interviewed by law enforcement, she explained she understood Qu and Sixiu Li to be her bosses. She paid $10 a day to live at the Foot Spa, and food from the restaurant China Town would be provided to the women.
She also listed for law enforcement the prices for various sexual services and said she earned $3,000 during the first month she worked, according to federal court documents.
Victoria police received a tip in May 2012 that patrons were being solicited for sex at the Foot Spa, but when detectives went undercover to see whether the claim was true, they were not propositioned.
The investigation was revived in June 2013 when police discovered an online forum rating the spa for its supposed illicit activities and offering tips on how to avoid detection, according to an arrest and search warrant affidavit filed by Detective Cody Breunig.
And Oct. 16, an undercover Houston Police detective went to the Foot Spa and was propositioned, according to federal court documents.
Although Sixiu Li was sought on a charge in federal court for transporting individuals in interstate and foreign commerce for prostitution, after government agent Steve Greenwell testified in November, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jason Libby found there was no probable cause to hold her and dismissed the complaint.
In March, the government filed a motion to dismiss Qu's case "in the interest of justice," and Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey ordered it so.
There were no criminal cases filed for Rong Yu Li and Su-Fang Liu.
April 11, Sixiu Li and Su-Fang Liu were picked up from the Victoria County Jail by Immigration Customs and Enforcement.
April 16, Rong Yu Li was transferred to Harris County, but it's unknown why, said Lt. Thomas Eisman of the Victoria County Sheriff's Office.
"It appears they (Su-Fang Liu and Rong Yu Li) were held as material witnesses in the federal case but were later released upon dismissal of the indictment," U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Angela Dodge wrote via email. "I cannot comment on decisions made by the court or provide information that was beyond the public record."
The state has also begun the forfeiture process.
The state is seeking $28,492.96, 2,243 Chinese Yaun, 100 Euros and $60 in Australian dollars as proceeds from crime. Already, more than $10,000 has been forfeited to the state.