A Nigerian couple has been charged with forced labour and other crimes involving two undocumented individuals, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger and Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke announced.
According to the information made available on the website of the US Department of Justice, the couple – Bolaji Bolarinwa, 47, and Isiaka Bolarinwa, 65 – both of Moorestown, New Jersey, were charged on Thursday in an eight-count indictment with two counts of forced labour.
Bolaji Bolarinwa was also charged with two counts of bringing in and harbouring certain undocumented individuals and two counts of unlawful conduct with respect to documents in furtherance of forced labour.
Both defendants were scheduled to appear on Thursday by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio.
According to the indictment: From 2015 to 2016, Bolaji Bolarinwa unlawfully obtained labour and services from one victim by means of serious harm or threats of serious harm, and from another victim by means of force or threats of force.
It was stated that she abused and threatened abuse of legal process against both victims.
Bolarinwa’s spouse, Isiaka Bolarinwa, was said to have participated in the scheme and financially benefitted from the victims’ forced labour.
Documents say Bolaji Bolarinwa knew that both victims had entered the United States illegally and harboured them from detection for her own financial gain.
She confiscated and possessed the passports and visas of both victims, the documents added.
An indictment says the victims were women, but offered no details about their backgrounds.
Both defendants face a maximum penalty on each forced labour count of 20 years in prison.
Bolaji Bolarinwa faces a maximum penalty on each undocumented individual harbouring count of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty on each unlawful document conduct count of five years in prison.
They also each face a fine on each count of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss from the offence, whichever is greatest.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger and Assistant Attorney General Clarke credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to the indictment.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.