HAMMOND — Federal prosecutors asked a judge Tuesday to sentence a Chicago woman to 40 years in prison for luring two women to the U.S. from Asia and forcing them into prostitution at several Northwest Indiana spas.
Rita Law, 59, of Chicago, was convicted with Crystal Wireman, 33, of Lake Station, after a 14-day trial that started in January 2017 in federal court in Hammond.
"A 40-year sentence is necessary to provide punishment for Law's heinous crimes," the U.S. attorneys office said in a legal filing. "She concocted and carried out two separate schemes to lure uneducated and naive women to the United States so she could sell their bodies for her own personal profit. Her depravity and total lack of empathy forever changed them and their future lives."
Law is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 12.
Wireman, 33, was sentenced Aug. 22 to two years in prison for her role in the prostitution scheme.
A second co-defendant, Edward C. Olszewski, 71, of Hobart, pleaded guilty in 2015 to transporting woman from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago to Indiana for prostitution. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 13.
The other spa locations included Duneland Spa in Lake Station and Fun Fun Feet in Hobart, according to court records.
The federal government accused Law of recruiting foreign women to work at her three spas on promises they would receive citizenship, marriage and employment.
Law manipulated one of her frequent customers into proposing marriage to one woman in an effort to lure the woman to the U.S., records allege.
Law paid for the man to travel to Vietnam and China, and the woman became pregnant. When the woman arrived in the U.S., Law took the woman's passport and prohibited her from seeing the man.
Law forced the woman to work 14 hours a day performing massages and sexual services for six to nine strangers a day and allowed her to eat just once a day, records say.
When the woman called Law because she was having a miscarriage, Law told her to go back to sleep. Law took the woman to a doctor the next morning, but then forced her to service customers the same day.
The woman eventually escaped and went to police. However, charges were not brought until five years later, after another woman was arrested in a raid in 2013 at the Duneland Spa, 3549 Broadway in Gary.
An Asian masseuse arrested by Gary police told investigators through a translator that her employers were holding her passport.
While the woman was in custody, Law continued to attempt to manipulate the woman by posing an an interpreter for an attorney during a jail visit, records state.
Law brought the woman's passport to her, but then manipulated her into signing a document appointing the attorney as her immigration counsel. Law's true intention was to have the woman deported to Taiwan, court records say.
Law attempted to flee to Hong Kong as investigators closed in on her, but Homeland Security were waiting with an arrest warrant when she got off the airplane, court records say.