Friday, December 2, 2016

Stockton couple Indicted on human trafficking charges

A HUSBAND AND WIFE were indicted for human trafficking. Most of the victims were from India and other countries of south Asia.

Satish Kartan, 43, and his wife, Sharmistha Barai, 38, of Stockton, Calif, were indicted by a Stockton grand jury Nov. 21 for forced labor and conspiracy to commit forced labor. Kartan was also charged with fraud in contacting foreign labor and Barai was also charged with benefiting from forced labor.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert of the Eastern District of California announced the indictment, which
 is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

According to court documents, between Feb. 21, 2014, and Oct. 3, 2016, Kartan and Barai hired workers from overseas to perform domestic labor in their homes in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Stockton and elsewhere in the United States. 

In advertisements seeking workers on the internet and India-based newspapers, the defendants made false claims regarding the wages and the duties of employment. Once the workers arrived at the defendants’ residences, Kartan and Barai forced them to work 18 hours a day with limited rest and nourishment. The defendants did not pay wages and used force, physical restraint and coercive conduct to get the workers to perform the labor and services.

The indictment alleges that the couple struck one worker on multiple occasions, including one incident where Kartan grabbed her hands and caused them to be burned over the flames of a gas stove. 

On Oct. 21, Kartan and Barai were arrested on a criminal complaint and were released on bond with special conditions that prohibit them from hiring any nonrelatives to perform domestic services or child care work for them. The defendants are also prohibited from directly or indirectly contacting any of their prior domestic workers.

The couple is facing allegations of human trafficking and an indictment does not mean that they have been found guilty of the crime.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.