California couple allegedly forced man to work without pay, sleep in closet
13th November 2020

A California couple has been charged with human trafficking after an Indian man was found living in a storage room in their liquor store — where he worked 105-hour weeks for no pay, according to authorities.

Amarjit and Balwinder Mann, both 66, were busted when an Alcoholic Beverage Control inspector found the man in a back room at their store in Gilroy, with milk crates for a bed and a mop bucket for a bath, the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

He told investigators he flew in from India in 2019 expecting to travel the US with the Manns. Instead, the couple took his money and passport and forced him to work every day for 15 hours without pay, while threatening him with deportation, the office said.

Three other men — two who worked at the liquor store and one who worked at the market across the street — also told agents they were forced to work marathon hours with hardly any pay, the office said.

Prosecutors estimate that the couple stole more than $150,000 in wages from the victims while running a profitable business.

“Slavery officially was abolished in 1865. Tragically, we are seeing examples of it in 2020,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said.

“My Office will prosecute anyone to the fullest extent of the law who practices this kind of criminal and inhumane exploitation.”

The Manns face possible prison time on charges of human trafficking, witness intimidation and wage theft, the DA’s office said.

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