CRIME

Maryland couple indicted in trafficking, forced labor scheme

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A Maryland couple has been indicted for forcing a Filipino woman to work for them for ten years, the U.S. Attorney for the district of Maryland announced Wednesday.

The house where a Filipino woman was allegedly forced to work. (Photo: Brad Bell)

A federal grand jury indicted Alfred Edwards, 73, and Gloria Edwards, 60, both of Upper Marlboro, Md., for forcing a Filipino woman to work for them, threatening and assaulting her.

“Human trafficking robs victims of their freedom and dignity and it will not be tolerated in our nation,” said Assistant Attorney General Perez.

A man who spoke through the door of the couple’s house wouldn’t discuss the charges.

The couple enticed the victim to come to the United States to work as their domestic servant, according to the five-count indictment. The woman was an impoverished, uneducated, mother of eight, officials stated. The defendants promised her a salary that would support her children in the Philippines.

The defendants gained a false visa for the woman, and confiscated her documents after she arrived. They forced her to work for 13 hours a day for ten years, using a scheme of threats, assaults, withholding of documents, withholding of pay, and a peonage contract to coerce the victim’s continued service.

Neighbors of the couple say they had no idea a servant lived with the family. Several say they are stunned by the allegations.

“We never saw any indication anything was wrong,” said neighbor Vivian Hodges, who added she never saw a servant living at the house.

The defendants are also charged with immigration violations. If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of up to 50 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

“I am really, really appalled,” said neighbor Thelma Bradford. “I don't know them personally, but I’ve seen them, talked to them spoken to them and I never would have dreamed.”

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