Woman Convicted of Forcing Sri Lankan to Work 9 Years Without Pay

(UPI) — A New Jersey woman was convicted of forcing a Sri Lankan woman to work for her nine years without pay, causing her to overstay her visa and forcing her into marriage so she could stay in the country, the Department of Justice said.

The jury deliberated for two hours Thursday, finding Alia Imad Faleh Al-Hunaity, 43, guilty of forced labor, alien harboring for financial gain and marriage fraud.

The conviction brings to an end the six-day trial before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden federal court.

“The defendant in this case treated the victim as a slave,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpeniot said in a statement. “Al-Hunaity kept the victim in this country illegally and hid her away, in order to force her to perform household work for Al-Hunaity without pay, privacy or the ability to move about freely.”

According to court documents, Al-Hunaity brought the woman to the United States from Sri Lanka on a temporary visa in 2009 to perform domestic work.

Since then, Al-Hunaity caused the victim to overstay her visa, which forced her to reside in the United States illegally for nine years.

While here, she cared for Al-Hunaity’s three children, cooked and cleaned her New Jersey homes, all without pay.

“During this time, Hunaity required the victim to sleep on a bed in a public space in Hunaity’s homes, including in the kitchen,” the Department of Justice said. “In 2018, Hunaity forced the victim to marry her so that the victim could obtain legal resident and Hunaity could continue to force her to work without fear of the victim being deported.”

Al-Hunaity faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 4.