New York widow found guilty of harbouring illegal Indian maid

MICHAEL HILL
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Annie George

Annie George has been found guilty of keeping Valsamma Mathai in the United States illegally. Screengrab

ALBANY, N.Y. — A woman who had been charged with cheating an Indian household servant out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay and keeping her a virtual prisoner at a mansion was found guilty Friday of knowingly keeping the servant in the country illegally.

Annie George, the widow of a hotelier who died in a plane crash, had said she didn’t know Valsamma Mathai was in the United States illegally. She also said she didn’t mistreat Mathai during the 5 1/2 years she worked in her home in a suburb of the state capital, Albany.

Mathai had testified that she slept in a closet, worked long days without vacation, days off or sick time and wasn’t allowed to leave the property, a palatial stone mansion on a cliff overlooking the Mohawk River.

Federal prosecutors said George owes Mathai $317,000, based on the minimum wage and overtime for the hours she worked. Mathai said she was paid only $26,000, much of which she sent to her family in India.

George was convicted of harbouring an illegal immigrant. She faces a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at her July 9 sentencing. She remains free on bail.

A federal jury handed down its decision Friday after deliberating since Thursday afternoon.

The case surfaced when one of Mathai’s sons in India, Shiju Mathai, called the National Human Trafficking Resources Center in 2011.

On Thursday, George said a tape recording of a phone call between a woman and Shiju Mathai, which prosecutors played Wednesday, wasn’t her voice. She didn’t say who she thought the voice belonged to.

On the call, the woman warns Shiju Mathai there could be dire consequences, even jail time, for his mother if she were to tell authorities about working in the United States.

George testified that she was left in desperate financial straits when her husband died in 2009. She said she knew nothing of his business dealings, including the arrangement to have Valsamma Mathai live with them, because he required her to stick to her duties as his wife and mother of their six children and severely punished her if she tried to make any decisions in the home.

Her late husband, Mathai George, was a native of India who built a hotel and real estate development business in the United States. He was killed along with his 11-year-old son and another man when their private plane crashed after takeoff.

Defence lawyer Mark Sacco, in his closing arguments, said Annie George deferred to her husband on all decisions.

“The government is prosecuting Annie George because Mathai George isn’t here,” Sacco said.

He suggested Shiju Mathai launched the investigation because he was unhappy that his mother was sending less money home after Mathai George died.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Belliss said Annie George was an intelligent woman with a graduate degree in pharmacy who, even if she didn’t directly know Valsamma Mathai’s immigration status, was smart enough to figure it out. Belliss said Annie George even took Valsamma Mathai to an immigration lawyer once, a charge George denied.

Prosecutors had no immediate comment after the verdict against George.

Valsamma Mathai, who was not in court Friday, came to the United States legally on a visa and stayed with another family after her husband died of cancer, leaving her the sole provider for her two sons and ailing mother. When she left that family her status was illegal because it violated the terms of the visa, Belliss said.

A business associate testified Wednesday that Mathai George left six hotels, all in foreclosure or bankrupt and in poor condition. Several friends of Annie George said when they visited it appeared Valsamma Mathai was a member of the family, rather than a servant, and George’s children called her grandmother.

16:50ET 08-03-13

[+]

Tags: , , , ,





Featured

Sexual luring online - Cyberbullying

Surrey cricketer and his brother busted by Facebook security for Internet luring

JANE SEYD NORTH SHORE NEWS A Surrey man has been sentenced to house arrest after he was busted by Facebook security for inappropriate sexual chat…
Continue Reading »

British Columbia

McDonald’s puts temporary foreign workers program on hold after Victoria franchises controversy

THE CANADIAN PRESS VICTORIA — McDonald’s Canada says temporary foreign workers are a necessary ingredient in the fast-food chain’s business model, but until the company satisfies…
Continue Reading »

Success Story

One-year-old baby becomes 500th successful Pakistani liver transplant case in India

IANS New Delhi – One-year-old Nalain Aziz has become the 500th Pakistani patient who underwent a successful liver transplant at a city hospital here, doctors…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Sexual luring online - Cyberbullying

Surrey cricketer and his brother busted by Facebook security for Internet luring

JANE SEYD NORTH SHORE NEWS A Surrey man has been sentenced to house arrest after he was busted by Facebook security for inappropriate sexual chat…
Continue Reading »

British Columbia

McDonald’s puts temporary foreign workers program on hold after Victoria franchises controversy

THE CANADIAN PRESS VICTORIA — McDonald’s Canada says temporary foreign workers are a necessary ingredient in the fast-food chain’s business model, but until the company satisfies…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-New Westminster

Six-lane Pattullo Bridge should go between Coquitlam and Surrey: New Westminster mayor Wayne Wright

THEREAS MCMANUS ROYAL CITY RECORD METRO VANCOUVER — If Coquitlam and Surrey want a six-lane replacement for the Pattullo Bridge, they can have it, says…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Desi Dad

Single dad smuggles daughter in suitcase from Morocco to Spain (w/video, photos)

CEN AGENCY A Moroccan dad who tried to smuggle his daughter into Spain by hiding her in a suitcase so that she could have a…
Continue Reading »

Mouse deer

World’s smallest deer that’s more like a ‘mouse’ born at a Spain zoo

CEN AGENCY The world’s smallest deer – more like a mouse – with a heritage stretching back millions of years has been born at a…
Continue Reading »

Russian social services have confiscated a two-month-old baby from his mother after she pushed him onto the rail tracks in his pram during a heated row with the boy's father. CEN Agency

Video: Angry mom wants baby back that she shoved onto train tracks (w/gallery)

CEN AGENCY Russian social services have confiscated a two-month-old baby from his mother after she pushed him onto the rail tracks in his pram during…
Continue Reading »

Rape-Gang rape-crime against women

Indians view rape as ‘very big problem’: Poll

MATTHEW PENNINGTON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — A new poll shows that Indians view rape as a big problem in their country and think the…
Continue Reading »

Desi-bhoot bangla-China-Asia

Gallery: No one wants these luxury villas in ‘The City of the Dead’

CEN AGENCY These are the luxury homes that no-one wants in a place locals call ‘The City of the Dead’. Over 100 villas here have…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Salman Khan-Jacqueline Fernandez

London bus drives off Warsaw Bridge causing panic, turns out to be a Bollywood shoot (w/video, photos)

CEN AGENCY Polish police received panicked calls after this London double-decker bus drove off a bridge, and plummeted into a river in the Polish capital…
Continue Reading »

Music-Bollywood-desi sex symbol

Priyanka Chopra’s latest single ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ already a hit on iTunes in 24 hours

IANS Mumbai – The going is great for actor-singer Priyanka Chopra. She is out with her third solo single “I can’t make you love me”,…
Continue Reading »

condom-ads-Durex-sex-booty shake

Video: Bollywood actor and Durex brand ambassador Ranveer Singh urges people to try ‘the Rex’

IANS New Delhi – Actor Ranveer Singh, who has done bold scenes in movies like “Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela” and “Band Baaja Baaraat”, is now…
Continue Reading »