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Millionaire couple sentenced for modern slavery

Latest update : 2008-06-28

A millionaire couple from New York has been sentenced to 11 years and 40 months respectively after being found guilty of keeping their two Indonesian housekeepers in slave-like conditions.

A millionaire couple from Long Island near New York have been jailed for 11 years and 40 months respectively for enslaving and torturing their two Indonesian housekeepers, officials said Friday.
Varsha Sabhnani, 46, was sentenced to 132 months in jail on Thursday, while her Indian-born husband Mahender Sabhnani, 51, who ran a perfume business in Long Island, was sent to prison for three years and four months.
The couple, who were found guilty in December, beat their maids with sticks, threw scalding water at them, forced them to run up and down flights of stairs as punishment and made them eat hot chili peppers.
They also refused to pay the women and instead would send 100 dollars a month to their families in Indonesia. The maids worked 20-hour days.
Prosecutors charged that the Sabhnanis also failed to give the women sufficient food and forced them to hide in the basement or garage whenever they entertained guests at home.
The two women, neither of whom spoke English, arrived in the United States in 2002 under valid visas. But the Sabhnanis confiscated their passports and their visas expired.
The Sabhnanis were arrested in May 2007 after police found one of the two housekeepers in a fast-food restaurant wearing just pants and a towel with an open wound in her head.
"It is shocking that crimes like these could occur in one of our communities in the 21st century," said prosecutor Benton Campbell.
The wife received a much tougher sentence than her husband because prosecutors argued she had greater responsibility over the women.

Date created : 2008-06-28