Upper Marlboro, Maryland Couple Charged with Domestic Servitude of Filipina Woman
Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted Alfred Edwards, age 73, and Gloria Edwards, age 60, both of Upper Marlboro, Md., on charges arising from a scheme to compel the labor and domestic service of a Filipina national.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division; and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The U.S. Attorney's Office will continue to work with the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and federal and state agencies and nonprofit organizations, in conjunction with Maryland's Human Trafficking Task Force, to locate human trafficking victims and prosecute perpetrators,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
“Human trafficking robs victims of their freedom and dignity and it will not be tolerated in our nation,” said Assistant Attorney General Perez. “We will prosecute all cases of human trafficking to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to the five count indictment, the couple enticed the victim to come to the United States to work as the defendants’ domestic servant. According to the indictment, the defendants lured the victim, who was an impoverished, uneducated, mother of 8 children, using false promises of a salary that would support the victim’s children in the Philippines. The defendants procured a fraudulent visa to allow the victim to enter the United States; confiscated the victim’s documents after she arrived; and compelled her labor for 13 hours a day over a period of 10 years, using a scheme of threats, assaults, withholding of documents, withholding of pay, and a peonage contract to coerce the victim’s continued service.
The defendants are also charged with immigration violations.
The charges in the indictment are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of up to 50 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Baltimore Division of the FBI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. Perez thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner and Senior Special Counsel Susan French of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, who are prosecuting the case.
The case was investigated by the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders. Members include federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers and local community members. For more information about the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit www.justice.gov/usao/md/Human-Trafficking/index.html.