Virginia Couple Pleads Guilty to Immigration Charges for Harboring Domestic Servant in Their Home
|U.S. Department of Justice May 06, 2014|
WASHINGTON—The Department of Justice announced today that Abdelkader and Hnia Amal pleaded guilty to one count of alien harboring in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The guilty plea stemmed from evidence that Abdelkader and Hnia Amal unlawfully brought a woman into the United States from Morocco and then kept the woman in their home as a domestic servant for three years.
According to court records, the defendants, who are husband and wife, concealed, harbored, and shielded from detection a Moroccan national, identified in court records as F.H., in their home in Alexandria, Virginia, from December 2007 until December 2010. F.H. served as a domestic servant within the home of the defendants. Hnia Amal also had F.H. work for her commercial cleaning company, cleaning various residential and commercial properties.
The Amals unlawfully brought F.H. into the United States on a visa they procured based on false representations that F.H. would be employed as a domestic servant for a different employer. After the defendants unlawfully smuggled F.H. into the United States in December 2007, they did not pay her a salary. Instead, the defendants made two down payments towards an apartment in Morocco on F.H.’s behalf. The two payments, made in October 2010 and January 2011, were roughly equivalent to $8,500 and represented only about a quarter of the total apartment cost. Moreover, while Hnia Amal’s cleaning company received money for the work that F.H. performed, F.H. did not receive any pay for her work on behalf of Hnia Amal’s cleaning company.
According to the statement of facts entered with Abdelkader Amal’s plea agreement, Amal previously held an A-1 diplomatic visa as a military official in the Moroccan embassy in Washington, D.C. After Amal retired in 2003 as the defense supply attaché, he was no longer eligible to sponsor individuals for domestic employment under an A-3 visa.
The defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when they are sentenced on July 11, 2014. As part of the plea agreement, the defendants also agreed to pay at least $52,700 in restitution to F.H. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
The case was jointly investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. The case was jointly prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney C. Alexandria Bogle of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Matthew T. Grady of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.