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Indian American Woman Sentenced to 15-plus Years for Human Trafficking

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STOCKTON, CA- The U.S. Department of Justice Oct. 5 announced that Sharmistha Barai was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison for forced labor violations.

Barai, 40, formerly of Stockton, California, was sentenced Oct. 2, the Justice Department said.

On March 14, 2019, after an 11-day trial, a federal jury found Barai and her husband, Satish Kartan, guilty of conspiracy to obtain forced labor and two counts of obtaining forced labor.

Kartan is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 22.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, between February 2014 and October 2016, the Indian American couple hired workers from overseas to perform domestic labor in their home in Stockton.

In advertisements seeking workers on the internet and India-based newspapers, the defendants made false claims about the wages and conditions of employment. Once the workers arrived at the defendants’ Stockton residence, Kartan and Barai compelled them to work up to 18 hours a day with limited rest and nourishment, the documents said.

Few of them were paid any wage. The defendants kept the domestic workers from leaving and coerced them to continue working by threatening them, by creating an atmosphere of fear, control, and disempowerment, and at times by physically hitting or burning them, it added.

When a victim resisted or expressed a desire to leave, the threats and abuse became worse, the release said.

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