The Rexford woman accused of keeping an illegal Indian immigrant in a forced labor situation at her home is denying the allegations made against her by the Department of Homeland Security.
An attorney for 39-year-old Annie George said Thursday his client is not guilty, and he questions the authenticity of evidence used to file the criminal complaint.
“She denies the allegations,” said Donald Kinsella, principal attorney at the Law Offices of Donald T. Kinsella.
An eight-page affidavit filed Monday in United States District Court alleges that George never paid what was owed to the woman she and her late husband, Mathai Kolath George, hired to be a domestic servant in their mansion, known as Llenroc.
The victim, identified only as “V.M.,” allegedly worked 17-hour days at the sprawling Rexford estate along the Mohawk River, was forced to sleep on a closet floor and was denied personal or sick days.
George was processed in court and released on her own recognizance earlier this week, said Tina Sciocchetti, assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York. Sciocchetti, lead attorney on the case, declined to comment further.
Originally the woman from Kerala, India, had been employed in the country legally as a domestic servant for the family of a United Nations employee. But an offer of significantly more pay from the Georges prompted V.M. to move upstate and work for the family, the affidavit states.
The criminal complaint says Annie George encouraged and induced the woman to reside in the United States from August 2008 to May 3, 2011, while knowing and disregarding that it was a violation of law. Specifically, it’s a violation of Title 8 and Title 18 of United States Code.
The affidavit includes translated dialogue from a recorded phone conversation between Annie George and V.M.’s son, in which she allegedly acknowledged the woman lacked a passport and visa. The affidavit also says she urged the son to lie and say his mother was a relative of the Georges.
“If she says anything about working, it would become a big crime,” George said in one of the recordings to V.M.’s son. “They’ll start adding up all the taxes and everything for all this time.”
Kinsella said there’s no way to know whether the tapes are genuine.
“They’re in some other language,” he said. “We don’t know who interpreted them. I haven’t heard any tapes, and I wouldn’t understand them if I did because they’re not in English.”
V.M. spoke little English, primarily speaking Hindi and Malayalam. Annie George was also known as Annie Kolath and Sajimol George, and her husband was born in India. He died in 2009 in a plane crash on the Mohawk River.
The affidavit described the process by which agents obtained and comprehended the recordings. The Albany office for Homeland Security Investigations received three recorded conversations last June that had been made by V.M.’s son in India. He identified the recordings as phone conversations he had with George after agents removed his mother from George’s home on May 3, 2011. He also identified the voices on the recordings. A Malayalam speaker provided a translation of the recordings to the agents.
“Given my knowledge of the facts pertaining to this investigation, the statements made by the caller fully suggest that Annie George is the speaker,” said Department of Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Daria Botten in the affidavit.
In one of the recordings, dated June 7, 2011, George acknowledged she was aware V.M. lacked a passport and visa. She encouraged the son to tell his mother to conceal from authorities that she was working in their home because it was illegal for her to be working in the United States.
Several times during the conversation, she told the son to tell his mother to tell the authorities that she was a relative of the Georges and was only staying at the house as a guest.
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