The federal court trial of the woman accused of forcing an illegal alien to work under slavelike conditions at the Llenroc mansion was delayed again Wednesday, this time because of a prosecution conflict with another high-profile case.
Wednesday’s delay comes after another one given in August, when defendant Annie George suffered injuries in a car accident near her Rexford home, according to the order filed Wednesday.
And those delays followed a delay in July, when prosecutors missed a deadline and had to re-indict George.
Regardless of the reasons for the delays, Chief Judge Gary L. Sharpe, who is presiding over the case, wrote that the new Jan. 7 trial date is firm, with no other delays permitted “absent extraordinary circumstances.”
George is to be tried on a federal indictment accusing her of harboring an illegal alien for financial gain.
George is accused of forcing the servant, who is from India and identified only as “V.M.” in court documents, to typically work more than 17 hours per day and sleep on the floor of a walk-in closet after moving into the mansion in 2008.
The latest delay was caused as Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Belliss is also one of the prosecutors in the case against Timothy M. McGinn and David L. Smith, longtime partners of Albany-based McGinn, Smith & Co., accused of bilking an estimated $9 million from investors. That case is set for trial beginning Nov. 13 in Utica and expected to last for five weeks.
George’s trial had been set for the week before in Albany. The judge in the McGinn and Smith case is expected to rule soon on a defense request for a trial delay. As of Wednesday, though, the trial remained on for November.
Papers filed in George’s case Wednesday also provided the reason for the August delay. According to a Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department accident report, George was driving east on Riverview Road around 10 a.m. Aug. 19 near the Llenroc mansion when she went off the right side of the road, then over-corrected and flipped her vehicle over.
She and four of her five children were injured. The accident report does not fully detail the injuries, but indicates George was ejected and suffered a head injury with minor bleeding, despite wearing a seat belt. The four others injured only complained of pain. They too were restrained. Unsafe speed was cited as a contributing factor in the crash.
In the federal case, prosecutors have alleged the servant was supposed to make about $1,000 per month. She alleged that she had been paid only $29,000 during her tenure and prosecutors allege that she is entitled to more than $200,000 in pay. She also claimed she hardly had any time off and never received medical care.
Immigration authorities stepped in when the woman’s son contacted the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and she was removed from the mansion in May 2011.
George claimed that she did not have the funds to pay her despite receiving a $5 million life insurance settlement in 2009 after her husband, 42-year-old Mathai Kolath George, and 11-year-old son, George M. Kolath, were killed in a plane crash in 2009.
George’s attorney, Mark Sacco, has said his client did not know about the servant’s immigration status, or how much she was being paid. Her late husband was the one who handled the finances.
Sacco has also charged in court papers that the servant was accusing George as a way to get permanent legal status for herself and her children.