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Indian American motel managers plead guilty to harboring an illegal immigrant

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Credit: US Department of Justice.

Two Indian American motel managers have pleaded guilty to attempting to harbor an illegal immigrant and making him work at the Nebraska-based motel.

According to the Department of Justice, Indian Americans Vishnubhai Chaudhari, 50, and Leelabahen Chaudhari, 44, of Kimball, Nebraska, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of alien harboring for financial gain.

“The Indian Americans admitted to helping an Indian illegal immigrant stay in their motel in Kimball between October 2011 and February 2013,” the court document said.

They were also found guilty of getting service from the illegal immigrant, making him work seven days a week at Super 8 Motel in Kimball. The victim is believed to have worked long hours, performing manual labor, including cleaning rooms, shoveling snow, and doing laundry.

“Motivated by their greed, the defendants violated the immigration laws and exploited a vulnerable individual who lacked immigration status,” said Acting Assisting Attorney General Gore of the Civil Rights Division.  “The Department of Justice will use its resources to proactively prosecute persons who, like the defendants, unlawfully victimize others for their own monetary profit.”

The victim was not paid the promised wages for the services he offered to the motel and, when asked, the defendants said the amount was accounted for the debt he owed them. They even stopped his free movement and regularly assaulted him.

“This case is a reminder that forced labor occurs in the United States, not just overseas, and federal law targets those who profit from human trafficking and related crimes,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Robert C. Stuart of the District of Nebraska. “This case is a testament that such conduct will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted in the District of Nebraska.”

Leelabahen Chaudhari is also accused of slapping the victim on the face several times because he had failed to clean a bathtub to her standards.  The incident came to light after the victim escaped from the motel with the help of a few guests and local law enforcement agency.

The sentencing of the two accused is scheduled for March 19 and they face a maximum sentencing of up to 18 months. The victim, an Indian citizen, was paid $40,000 as restitution during Tuesday’s hearing and the two accused will be deported back to India after the completion of their sentences.

“Human trafficking is the modern world’s version of enslaving another person for profit. That is what these individuals have done to this victim,” said Special Agent in Charge Alex Khu of HSI St. Paul.

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