CARS HOMES JOBS

Defendant knew servant was in U.S. illegally, conversations appear to show

Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Text Size: A | A

— Prosecutors in the case against Llenroc resident Annie George rested their case this morning with testimony from the son of George's servant and a federal labor official.

Testimony from the son of servant Valsamma Mathai included the entering of transcript exerpts from conversations son Shiju Mathai had with George after his mother was taken from the home by authorities.

In the conversations, translated from the original Malayalam language to English, George appears to acknowledge at several points she knew the servant was in the U.S. illegally.

In the conversation, George allegedly told the son she was worried about his mother, that because she was taken by authorities, she would be going to jail and then be deported.

"If she says anything about working, Shiju, it would be a big crime," George was quoted as saying in the transcript. "They'll start adding up all the taxes and everything, for all this time."

George also appeared to be trying to figure out who had "betrayed" the servant to authorities and suggested Shiju Mathai tell his mother not to talk to authorities to keep his mother out of jail.

At one point, George allegedly suggests Valsamma say she was just staying with the family.

"There's nothing wrong with staying here," George allegedly said. "If she says she was working, there could be big problems. They'll put her in jail for sure."

Shiju Mathai didn't tell George, but he was the one who started the process to have his mother pulled from the home, concerned with her safety.

On cross-examination, Shiju Mathai, who lives in India and testified through a Hindi translator, was asked by defense attorney Mark Sacco about his motivations. Much of the money that his mother was paid went to him and his family. Sacco also suggested the son didn't start worrying about his mother until there were problems with money.

"Isn't it true that your principal concern was the recovery of money?" Sacco asked.

"All I want is justice for my mom," the son responded.

George is accused of harboring an illegal immigrant for financial gain. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison, though she could get far less.

Prosecutors are trying to prove that George knew Mathai was an illegal immigrant and then concealed Mathai from detection for financial gain.

Sacco has argued that his client did not know about the servant’s immigration status or how much she was being paid, because George’s late husband handled the finances.

The testimony from the labor official included a calculation of what the servant would have actually been owed, had she been paid at minimum wage, with overtime, for all the hours she actually worked.

That number, calculated at 17 hours per day for each day over five and a half years, came to a total of just over $317,000.

Valsamma Mathai testified earlier she only received $25,000 to $26,000 over that time. The agreement was for $1,000 per month, or $66,000 over that period.

The agent also testified that, the servant's illegal status notwithstanding, if the hours worked dipped the average hourly wage below minimum wage, that would be illegal.

The testimony from David Gerrain, a special agent with the Labor Department, also included an inadvertent reference to apparent other investigations into George's businesses.

When prosecutor Richard Belliss asked if he was familiar with Valsamma Mathai, Gerrain appeared to give the answer as though Belliss had asked if he was familiar with George.

Defense attorney Mark Sacco objected and Judge Gary L. Sharpe ordered his answer stricken and for attorneys to be precise and for the witness to listen to the question.

The defense is expected to begin its case this afternoon and possibly conclude testimony completely.

 
Share story: print print email email facebook facebook reddit reddit

comments

Log-in to post a comment.
 

columnists & blogs


Log into Dailygazette.com

Forgot Password?

Subscribe

Username:
Password: