Thursday, June 9, 2011
PINAY VICTIM OF MODERN-DAY SLAVERY IN MARYLAND
A case of modern-day slavery so close to the nation’s capital has resulted in federal grand jury indictment against a Maryland couple who allegedly lured a Filipina to work as their maid but used her virtually as a slave for over a decade.
Alfred and Gloria Edwards of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, about 45 minutes’ drive from Washington DC, have been charged with human trafficking and violating immigration laws.
The indictment was announced yesterday (June 8) by US Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division.
According to the five-count indictment, the couple enticed the Filipina, who was not identified but was described as an “impoverished, uneducated, mother of eight children” with “false promises of a salary” to support her family in the Philippines.
The Edwards allegedly secured a visa, that prosecutors say was fraudulent, that allowed the Filipina to enter the US.
But when she arrived, the couple seized her passport and visa card, and forced her to work 13 hours a day for over 10 years under a “peonage contract” that was allegedly accompanied by threats, assaults and withholding of pay.
“Human trafficking robs victims of their freedom and dignity and it will not be tolerated in our nation,” said Assistant Attorney General Perez. “We will prosecute all cases of human trafficking to the fullest extent of the law.”
"The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and federal and state agencies and nonprofit organizations, in conjunction with Maryland’s Human Trafficking Task Force, to locate human trafficking victims and prosecute perpetrators,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod Rosenstein.
The charges in the indictment are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of up to 50 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
This case is being investigated by the Baltimore Division of the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner and Senior Special Counsel Susan French of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.