An American couple in New Jersey has been convicted of smuggling a Kenyan woman from Kenya into the United States and forcing her to work long work at their house with little pay.
Mary and Michael Wood were found guilty of harboring an alien for financial gain and conspiracy by a federal court in New Jersey on Tuesday, June 6th.
The court heard that the Mullica Hill, NJ couple traveled to Kenya in August, 2005 and brought a young woman, only identified as P.I., to the United States to care for their four children. The couple told P.I. to pretend she was their daughter, and used their eldest daughter’s British passport to bring P.I. into the US
Prosecutors said the couple forced P.I. to clean their home, cook, care for the children and do their laundry for a meager $200 a month despite always being on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Under federal labor laws, the prosecutors said she was supposed to be paid $5,200 per month.
The couple also allegedly prevented P.I. from leaving the home except when dropping and picking up their children from school. She was also not allowed to speak to anyone outside the home.
P.I. managed to leave the house in 2011, and a federal investigation started.
"The defendants acted out of greed and circumvented immigration law to exploit the domestic labor of a young Kenyan woman, for minimal pay," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Wheeler in a statement.
Mary and Michael are scheduled to be sentenced on September 7th. Mary faces up to 20 years in prison while Michael faces up to 10 years.