WASHINGTON – Soripada Lubis, a naturalized American citizen originally from Indonesia, pleaded guilty today to harboring illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain, the Justice Department announced. Lubis’ wife, Siti Chadidjah Siregar, a citizen of Indonesia, pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal agents who were investigating the scheme.
According to the court documents, since at least 2000, Lubis and Siregar have kept up to 11 undocumented Indonesian women in their crowded basement. During the week, these women would live with and work as housekeepers for wealthy families in Potomac, Md. On the weekends, Lubis and Siregar transported the women back to their basement, where some of the women slept three to a bed. Lubis and Siregar also imposed various rules on the Indonesian women that restrained their freedom of movement and they confiscated the womens’ passports. Lubis and Siregar charged the women $375 per month for "rent" and transportation, plus fees for "taxes" and to send money to Indonesia. During the last five years, Lubis and Siregar made more than $90,000 from their enterprise.
When federal agents searched the defendants’ house in October 2008, they questioned Siregar about the Indonesian women. Siregar falsely told the agents that the women had requested that Siregar and Lubis keep their Indonesian passports.
In his guilty plea, Lubis admitted that he harbored between six and 24 aliens and that he was a leader and organizer of his enterprise. Lubis and Siregar also agreed to restitution for the Indonesian women.
"The Civil Rights Division vigorously investigates charges of labor trafficking and will prosecute those who are exploiting vulnerable aliens," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.
"For years, Soripada Lubis harbored vulnerable aliens in his home for his own financial gain," said Dana J. Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. "Thanks to our law enforcement partners and those who cooperated with them, this criminal activity has been shut down."
"The recruitment, harboring and transportation of illegal aliens are very serious crimes that we will simply not tolerate" said Mark X. McGraw, Acting Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Investigations, Washington, D.C. Field Office. "ICE strives to identify and bring to justice those who would engage in and profit by exploiting other human beings."
"Even the most innocent among us may blend into the scenery and be unseen victims," said Joseph Persichini, Jr., Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office. "Suburban families who paid these women to clean likely never expected the abuses these women suffered as they tried to make a better life for themselves and their family."
At sentencing on May 15, 2009, Lubis faces up to 10 years in prison as well as an order to pay restitution to several women whom he hired out to work as maids. Siregar faces up to five years in prison at sentencing. A sentencing date has not yet been determined.
In fiscal year 2008, the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices filed a record number of criminal civil rights cases, including record numbers of labor trafficking cases.
The investigation was conducted by ICE and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James P. Gillis and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Michael J. Frank.