Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Arlington, Texas, Couple Convicted of Forced Labor and Other Crimes for Holding Nigerian Woman in Domestic Servitude

WASHINGTON – A federal jury has convicted an Arlington, Texas, husband and wife, Emmanuel and Ngozi Nnaji, of engaging in a nine-year scheme to compel the labor of a Nigerian victim as their domestic servant, the Justice Department announced today. The jury found the defendants guilty of conspiracy, forced labor, document servitude, alien harboring and false statements. Ngozi and Emmanuel Nnaji each face a maximum sentence of up to 55 years in prison.

According to the evidence at trial, Emmanuel Nnaji and Ngozi Nnaji enticed a widowed Nigerian mother of six to come to the United States to be their domestic servant by falsely promising a salary and support for her children, who she was struggling to support.

" Holding other human beings in servitude against their will is a violation of human rights that will not be tolerated in our free society, " stated Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. " This prosecution demonstrates our commitment to combating human trafficking in all its forms, vindicating the rights of trafficking victims and bringing human traffickers to justice. "

James T. Jacks, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said, "We are pleased that this North Texas jury was able to return such a swift verdict, validating the hard work of the Civil Rights Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

FBI, Dallas Division Special Agent in Charge Robert Casey said, "The crimes proven in this case underscore the importance of enforcing the nation's Civil Rights laws, and the FBI is firmly committed to that enforcement. The FBI's pursuit of this investigation should send a clear message to those who would hold another human being in criminal servitude."

The defendants procured fraudulent immigration documents, confiscated the victim’s documents, harbored her in their home, compelled her to work long hours with no days off for little or no pay, used a scheme to isolate her and restrict her communications, withheld her documents and pay, and refused her requests to return home or be paid. The defendants also failed to provide support for the victim’s six children in Nigeria, limited and monitored contact with her family in Nigeria, isolated her from normal society in the United States, and refused to allow her to regularly attend church. According to the evidence at trial, Emmanuel Nnaji sexually assaulted the victim and made her fearful to call the police.

This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Trial Attorney Susan L. French and Michael J. Frank of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.

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