Local Couple Pays Over $18,000 to Worker Held Unlawfully at Their Home
Assistant U. S. Attorney Christopher P. Tenorio (619) 546-8413
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – November 3, 2016
SAN DIEGO – Firas Majeed and Shatha Abbas were sentenced today to three years of probation and ordered to pay $18,270 in restitution for illegally withholding the passport of an Indonesian woman who worked in their home without pay.
Majeed and Abbas were arrested on April 8, 2016, after the Indonesian woman – whose identity is being withheld – was rescued from their El Cajon home. On August 18, 2016, both Majeed and Abbas pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler to procuring the victim’s passport without lawful authority in order to maintain her labor between November 2015 and March 2016. As part of the agreement, Majeed and Abbas agreed to pay the victim in full for her labor.
The victim reported that she was previously held at a home belonging to relatives of Abbas in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She explained that she was required to provide domestic services in Dubai for 20 hours a day, every day, without pay. The victim explained that, after five years in Dubai, she was instructed to travel to the United States and work at the home of Majeed and Abbas in El Cajon.
The victim reported that, once in El Cajon, she was required to clean and provide other services for the entire household for up to 18 hours every day of the week. The victim explained that, again, she received no days off and was not paid for her services. She also reported she speaks no English, had no money, and was not allowed to leave the El Cajon residence alone, except to throw away the family’s trash.
Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations rescued the victim from the residence of Majeed and Abbas on March 22, 2016, after receiving a translated note the victim surreptitiously gave to a healthcare worker who had visited the residence.
Investigators from the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division determined that the victim was owed $18,270 in back wages for her labor (2,520 hours, plus 800 hours of overtime). The victim was provided $7,280 that was seized from the defendants’ home, and the defendants paid an additional $10,990 as a condition of their plea.
“Forcing someone to work under these horrible conditions is slavery, pure and simple,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “Victims of domestic servitude live in misery and fear. We stand ready to rescue victims and investigate and prosecute these crimes, but we need the public’s help to recognize and report these crimes.”
“Firas Majeed and Shatha Abbas’ reprehensible decision to dehumanize an innocent person has resulted in a justified sentence,” said David Shaw, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego. “It is impossible to quantify the extent of the harm done by Majeed and Abbas, but holding them accountable will continue to prove that our agents are dedicated to identifying and putting a stop to those engaged in human trafficking.”
“We have been seeing more and more of these types of domestic servitude cases involving unpaid wages of individuals of vulnerable communities,” said Rodolfo Cortez, district director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in San Diego. “We are committed to keep working together with the DOJ to fight against these bad actors. Our message is clear: if you are evading the law, you will be caught and held accountable.”
DEFENDANTS Case Number: 16CR0819-JMA
Firas Majeed (aka Firas Ghazi Majeed Al Tameemi) Age: 45
Shatha Abbas (aka Shatha Yehia Abbas Hussain) Age: 39
SUMMARY OF CHARGE
Title 18, United States Code, Section 1597 (Unlawful Conduct with Respect to Immigration Documents)
Maximum penalty: 1 year of custody; $100,000 Fine
Homeland Security Investigations
Department of Labor, Wage and Hour DivisionAssistant U. S. Attorney Christopher P. Tenorio (619) 546-8413