Federal Jury Convicts Fort Worth Woman Who Ran House Cleaning Service on Forced Labor and Harboring Illegal Alien Charges
FORT WORTH, Texas — Following a one-week trial in Fort Worth, Texas, before U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor, a federal jury has convicted Olga Sandra Murra, 64, of Fort Worth, on all four counts of an indictment charging federal felony offenses related to her harboring two women she illegally brought into the U.S. from Mexico and forcing them, with threat of serious harm and physical restraint, to work for her without pay. The announcement was made today by U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Specifically, late Friday afternoon, the jury convicted Murra, a/k/a “Olga Sandra Capon-Meneses,” on two counts of forced labor and two counts of harboring an illegal alien. Each forced labor count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Each harboring count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Following the verdict, Judge O’Connor remanded Murra into custody. Sentencing is set for November 28, 2016.
The government presented evidence at trial that from her birth in 1952 to 1997, Murra lived in Mexico. In 1997, Murra, her immediate family, and several other individuals she brought with her, including V.R., an adult female in her 30’s, moved to El Paso, Texas, and then later to Fort Worth. In 1998, Murra arranged for I.G., an adult female in her 20’s, to be transported into the U.S. Both V.R. and I.G. are Mexican citizens and both entered and remained in the U.S. illegally.
From September 1997 to April 29, 2011, Murra kept one or both of the women at her various residences in El Paso and Fort Worth and maintained possession of their identification documents.
In both El Paso and Fort Worth, Murra operated a house-cleaning business. She directed both V.R. and I.G. to work for her business, and both cleaned three to four homes per day up to seven days per week. In addition, the women cleaned Murra’s residence and prepared meals for her. Murra, however, did not pay either woman for this work. In fact, Murra required the two women give her all of the money they earned cleaning houses.
Murra represented herself to the women as the voice of God on earth, and required them to listen to religious recordings of Murra reading Bible verses and discussing their meaning while they cleaned homes. She caused both women to believe they would go to hell if they did not obey her. Murra threatened at least one of the women that if she disobeyed her, she would contact immigration and the woman would be buried in a field with other illegal aliens. Murra also struck at least one of the women.
Murra also restricted the women’s freedom within her house, requiring at times they ask for permission to go to the bathroom. Murra also prohibited them from talking to other individuals living at the residence. Generally, the women slept on the floor of a bedroom in the residence, but when she punished them, Murra required them to sleep in the garage, laundry room or backyard and restricted their food to bread and water.
In 2001, Murra provided I.G. with false identification documents and directed I.G. to work at McDonald’s and Walmart, in addition to working for her house-cleaning business. I.G. worked for approximately one year at McDonald’s in 2001 and at Walmart for approximately six months in 2003. Murra required I.G. to give all the checks she received to her, not allowing I.G. to keep any of the money she earned.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI). Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Allen-McCoy and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Wirmani are in charge of the prosecution.
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