By a Biometrica staffer
A former resident of California was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison for forced labor violations, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.
Sharmistha Barai and her husband Satish Kartan were found guilty of conspiracy to obtain forced labor and two counts of obtaining forced labor after a 11-day trial by a federal jury. Kartan is scheduled to be sentenced on October 22.
Between February 2014 and October 2016, Kartan and Barai hired workers from overseas to perform domestic labor in their home in Stockton. In advertisements seeking workers on the internet and India-based newspapers, the defendants made false claims about the wages and conditions of employment.
Once the workers arrived at the defendants’ Stockton residence, Kartan and Barai compelled them to work up to 18 hours a day with limited rest and nourishment. Few of them were paid any wage. The defendants kept the domestic workers from leaving and coerced them to continue working by threatening them, creating an atmosphere of fear, control, and disempowerment, and at times by physically hitting or burning them. When a victim resisted or expressed a desire to leave, the threats and abuse became worse.
“No human being should be lured into servitude with promises of employment. This form of human trafficking is heart wrenching: victims are often assaulted and live their lives in fear behind closed doors where escape seems all but impossible,” said SAC Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office.