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Statement of United States Attorney Benton J. Campbell

December 18, 2007

Following eight weeks of trial, the jury returned a verdict convicting the defendants Varsha Sabhnani and Mahender Sabhnani of all charges in the indictment, including forced labor, peonage, document servitude, harboring aliens, and conspiracy. After recruiting two Indonesian women to come to the United States to work as domestic servants in their Muttontown, Long Island, home, the defendants exploited those victims through beatings, threats, and other degrading mistreatment in order to keep them in a condition of servitude for years.

Forced labor and servitude, whether performed in a field, a factory, or a home, offends human dignity. As this case demonstrates, these crimes are not just remnants from a dark and distant past, but a reality that must be confronted today. Human Trafficking investigations and prosecutions are, and will remain, a priority for this office, the Department of Justice, and local law enforcement. We will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute those who would treat their employees as mere chattels.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Nassau County Police Department; and the Old Brookville Police Department for their extraordinary assistance in this case. I congratulate the government’s trial team – Assistant United States Attorneys Mark Lesko and Demetri Jones, Paralegal Specialist Glenda Abelman, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agents William Brust and Denise Gianni, and Nassau County Police Detective John Birbiglia. We would also like to thank the members of the jury for their service. Finally, I thank the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and the Sisters of Saint Dominic in Amityville, New York, for the care and assistance they provided to the two victims in this case.

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