Katy Couple Enters Guilty Pleas in Nanny Case
HOUSTON – The Katy couple charged in relation to the enslavement of their nanny have been convicted, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Sandra Nsobundu, 49, entered a plea to unlawful conduct with respect to documents in furtherance of forced labor, while her husband - Chudy Nsobundu, 57, pleaded to visa fraud.
According to testimony in a court hearing today, from on or about Sept. 29, 2013, and Oct. 10, 2015, the couple maintained a Nigerian woman to serve as a housemaid and nanny at their residence in Katy.
The immigration laws and regulations of the U.S. require citizens of certain foreign countries who seek admission to the U.S. to obtain a visa prior to entry. The application must contain true and accurate information and is submitted under oath. The defendants knowingly caused a false visa application for the victim to be submitted to the Department of State with numerous pieces of false information. These included the woman’s incorrect date of birth identifying her as 20 years older than she was, a false statement that she was married when she was not, a false statement indicating the purpose of travel was to attend a niece’s graduation and a written letter falsely stating that Chudy Nsobundu was her brother. Chudy Nsobundu knowingly made multiple material misrepresentations under oath on the visa application to increase the chances that the victim’s visa application would be accepted and to hide the fact that she would be working for the Nsobundu family as a housemaid and nanny under conditions not in compliance with U.S. labor laws. He submitted the application under oath, knowing the application contained these material misrepresentations.
Sandra Nsobundu aided and abetted in the submission of the fraudulently filed visa application her husband had submitted. In September 2013, Sandra Nsobundu took the woman to the U.S. Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, to obtain her visa. Sandra Nsobundu gave her a letter to provide to the consular officials which indicated she did not speak English well and that she would be traveling to the U.S. for her niece’s graduation. Sandra Nsobundu gave the woman a picture of Chudy Nsobundu and the family and told her to tell the officials that he was her brother. The victim is not a relative of Chudy Nsobundu and is not married. The spouse listed on her visa application is the Nsobundus’ driver in Nigeria.
After obtaining the woman’s visa, the Nsobundus paid to transport the victim from Nigeria to the U.S. Once here, Sandra Nsobundu took the victim’s passport and copies of her bank statement. The defendants then concealed, removed and possessed the woman’s passport and visa with the intent to violate the forced labor statute. As part of the plea today, they intended to prevent and restrict, without lawful authority, the victim’s liberty and ability to move and travel in order to maintain her labor and services.
The couple knowingly unlawfully obtained the labor and services of this woman from on or about Sept. 29, 2013, to Oct. 10, 2015. Throughout the period she worked for defendants, the victim was not permitted to have her passport or visa. The Nsobundus knowingly enacted a scheme intended to cause the woman to believe that failure to perform the labor and services would result in serious harm to her. They also threatened abuse of law and the legal process. The scheme included not paying the victim and restricting her movement to the defendants’ residence or two short walks per day around the block with the children. They also frequently yelled at, scolded and berated the victim for moving too slowly or failing to care for the children in the manner they wanted. In addition, the Nsobundus threatened to send the woman back to Nigeria if she did not comply with their labor demands.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking restitution in the amount of $129,108 to the victim alleging the defendants owe that amount in back wages. The Nsobundus had previously agreed to pay the victim 20,000 Nigerian nairas-$100 U.S. per month. The Nsobundus never paid the victim for any of her work here in the United States.
The victim was rescued Oct. 10, 2015, after more than two years with Nsobundus in the U.S. following a tip to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
Sandra Nsobundu faces a maximum of five years in prison, while her husband faces up to 10 years imprisonment. Both could also face up to a $250,000 fine. They were permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing which has been set for Jan. 4, 2017.
Members of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance conducted the investigation, which included Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, Department of State-Diplomatic Security Service and the Department of Labor-Wage and Hour Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ruben R. Perez and Julie N. Searle are prosecuting the case.