A former Stockton couple convicted in a human trafficking case faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for physically abusing, exploiting and threatening workers they hired from India and Nepal under false pretenses, authorities announced Monday.
After an 11-day trial in federal court, a jury on Thursday convicted Satish Kartan, 45, and his wife, Sharmistha Barai, 40, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento.
The married couple was found guilty of conspiracy to obtain forced labor and two counts of obtaining forced labor. Kartan also was found guilty of fraud in foreign labor contracting.
“These defendants exploited one victim after another, using them to labor in their home, failing to pay wages and depriving them of basic human rights,” U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott said in the release.
From February 2014 through October 2016, Kartan and Barai hired people from overseas to do domestic work in their Stockton home.
Federal prosecutors said the couple made false claims about wages and work duties in advertisements seeking workers online and in India-based newspapers.
After the workers arrived in Stockton, Kartan and Barai forced them to work 18 hours a day while depriving them of sleep and food, according to the prosecutors. They said few of the workers were paid a wage.
The defendants kept the workers from leaving their jobs “by threatening them, by creating an atmosphere of fear, control and disempowerment,” according to the release. Several workers also were threatened that attempts to leave their jobs would be reported to police or immigration officials.
Sean Ragan, special agent in charge of the Sacramento FBI Field Office, said Kartan and Barai did more than simply fail to pay victims for their work.
To read the full story by Rosalio Ahumada on Merced Sun-Star: Click HereTags: California, Labor