WASHINGTON – Javier Arce, 58, and Cristina Mier Arce, 55, were indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy and harboring of an undocumented Bolivian national for their financial gain, the Justice Department announced today.
According to the indictment, the defendants, who were formerly married to one another, recruited an undocumented Bolivian woman to work as their domestic servant and harbored her unlawfully for a total of nearly 15 years. The indictment alleges that beginning in 1994, the defendants recruited the woman to travel to the United States, and then conspired to harbor her and derive financial benefit from her labor as a full-time domestic servant from 1994 to 2006.
The indictment, filed in the Western District of Kentucky, also alleges that the defendants confiscated the woman’s passport, threatened that she would be arrested and deported if she left their home, and falsely assured her that her wages were being deposited into a bank account maintained on her behalf, while actually failing to pay her as promised for her service. The indictment further alleges that Javier Arce harbored the woman for financial gain from 2006-2009.
At arraignment today, both defendants entered not guilty pleas and were released on $100,000 bonds. A trial date has been scheduled in U.S. District Court in Louisville, Ky., on Aug. 30, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. before Judge John G. Heyburn II. If convicted, Javier Arce faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, $750,000 fine and three years supervised release. Christina Mier Arce faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, $500,000 fine and three years supervised release.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and prosecuted jointly by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Judd and Trial Attorney Daniel Weiss of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.