Charges filed in connection to alleged human trafficking, prostitution in south suburbs

Alleged prostitution discovered in St. Francis, Franklin, Greenfield and Hales Corners

Fengqing Sherman, John Sherman and Qiumei Zhong were arrested in connection to prostitution in a massage business.

Fengqing Sherman, John Sherman and Qiumei Zhong were arrested in connection to prostitution in a massage business. Photo By Submitted

Jan. 12, 2016

Charges have been filed tied to alleged human trafficking and prostitution at four area massage businesses owned by a Franklin man, according to police and a criminal complaint filed recently.

Police from three south suburban departments and Homeland Security moved in on four massage parlors owned by John Sherman of Franklin owns in St. Francis, Franklin, Greenfield and Hales Corners in November 2015. Undercover officers posed as massage customers and were solicited to pay extra for sex acts. Police also believe the businesses exploited individuals who immigrated from China illegally.

Charges were filed Nov. 18 as a result of the investigation, according to the criminal complaint.


 

RELATED COVERAGE: Video: Sex trafficking is real problem in suburbia, including Oak Creek


 

Chinese connection

Police confirmed that Sherman and his wife, Fengqing Sherman, own Asian Massage 1 at 5122 S. 108th St. in Hales Corners, Asian Massage at 4643 S. 108th St. in Greenfield, Oriental Massage at 3062 E. Layton Ave. in St. Francis, and Far East Foot and Body Massage at 5258 S. 27th St. in Milwaukee.

While Sherman told to police that he owned the massage parlors, his wife, a native Chinese speaker, ran the "day-to-day operations," which included hiring employees.

One worker, Qiumei Zhang, who was believed to be holding a visa, was also identified by police and arrested. However, since being released, Zhang has fled the country and returned to China, Hales Corners Detective Justin Landry said.

The other five workers were not charged and are going through the deportation process. They were determined to be victims based on information that police had gathered.

Six massage workers were housed in an apartment located at 3956 S. Howell Avenue in St. Francis.

Theft case that backfired

Police discovered the prostitution at the businesses after Sherman reported a theft from one of his massage businesses to St. Francis police in April 2015.

When police apprehended and cited the suspect, Jon Marunowski, for a municipal theft violation, he revealed to police that he stole $300 from Oriental Massage because of a dispute with an employee who Marunowski claimed stole money from him.

St. Francis police discovered from Marunowski that he visited Oriental Massage in St. Francis about once a month, and that the employees were different each time. Marunowski also visited other locations owned by the Shermans, where he received various sexual favors.

On two separate occasions, according to the criminal complaint, undercover officers from Hales Corners and Franklin visited the businesses for a massage. On both occasions, workers attempted to touch the undercover officers sexually in return for a "tip."

Sherman is scheduled to appear in court in April. One of his massage businesses, Asian Massage One in Hales Corners, is still open.

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