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Annie George convicted of sheltering illegal immigrant at mansion

Faces up to five years in prison, $250,000 fine.

Bureau Report

NEW YORK: Jurors convicted Annie George of harboring an illegal immigrant at her mansion in upstate New York, but cleared her of harboring the woman, Valsamma Mathai, both of whom are originally from Kerala, for financial gain, today.

Annie George
Annie George

George, 40, of Rexford, faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 after being found guilty of the lesser-included charge. She is likely to face a less-stringent punishment under federal sentencing guidelines because she has no criminal history, reported the Albany TimesUnion.

George and her attorney, Mark Sacco, quickly left the federal courthouse after the verdict. She did not speak to the media as she entered a white minivan on Broadway. Sacco said George would appeal the conviction.

Jurors deliberated for eight to 10 hours over two days after a weeklong trial before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe. Sharpe will decide next week on forfeiture issues related to George’s conviction.

Jurors reached their decision after rehearing testimony from George in which she referred to the servant, 49-year-old Mathai, as “the maid.” The testimony contradicted George’s defense that Mathai, a fellow native of India, was never her employee.

Mathai testified earlier this week that she worked 17- to 18-hour shifts with no days off and no sick leave at the masion known as Llenroc. She said she was paid $1,000 a week for the arrangement by George and George’s late husband, who wanted Mathai to prepare meals, clean their home and take care of their six children, said the Times Union report.

Llenroc mansion
Llenroc mansion

Mathai worked for the Georges for 5½ years, starting in 2005. She worked in three homes for the family, the last being the 20,000-square foot Llenroc mansion at 708 Riverview Road in Rexford, where she slept in a closet.

The Llenroc estate is nestled over 12 acres with direct Mohawk River and Erie Canal frontage. The ornate family castle was constructed in 1992 by insurance magnate Albert Lawrence, who attended the Ivy League Cornell Unversity his alma mater. Llenrocs name is Cornell spelled backwards. It is rumored to be built for $32.5 million.

An immigration official said Mathai should have earned $317,144 working for George – but an investigator sad she only received $21,000.

The conviction came after George testified in her own defense and, under pressure from her attorney, said she was repeatedly abused by her late husband, Mathai Kolath George. She claimed her husband made all of the family’s most important decisions – including allowing Mathai to live with them.

The spouse and one of their six children, George Kolath Jr., died in a private plane crash in 2009.

George testified she had no idea Mathai was an illegal immigrant when she worked for the family, which ended when federal agents arrived at Llenroc on May 3, 2011, and ended the situation. They brought Mathai to a shelter.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Belliss confronted George on her claim that Mathai was not an employee and that she never knew the woman was an illegal immigrant. Belliss played tape-recorded phone conversations for the jury in which the son of the servant, Shiju Mathai, spoke to George in the months after the federal agents took his mother from the George home.

On one recording, George said: “If (Mathai) says that she’s working here, that’s a big problem. They’ll put her in jail for sure.” George also said: “All it took was one person to say something and look what has happened now.”

At another time, George told the son: “If she says anything about working, Shiju, it’ll be a big crime.”

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