Sharmistha Barai Sentenced to Prison for Forced Labor of Foreign Nationals
October 5, 2020 - Sacramento, CA area Indian-American woman Sharmistha Barai (40) was sentenced on Friday October 02, 2020 to 15 years and eight months in prison for human trafficking related to forced labor of foreign nationals.
In addition, the court ordered Sharmistha Barai to pay more than $15,000 in restitution to the victims.
According to the court documents:
...between February 2014 and October 2016, Kartan and Barai hired workers from overseas to perform domestic labor in their home in Stockton. In advertisements seeking workers on the internet and India-based newspapers, the defendants made false claims regarding the wages and the duties of employment. Then, once the workers arrived at the defendants’ Stockton residence, Kartan and Barai forced them to work 18 hours a day with limited rest and nourishment. Few of them were paid any wage. The defendants kept their domestic workers from leaving and induced them to keep working for them by threatening them, by creating an atmosphere of fear, control, and disempowerment, and at times by physically hitting or burning them. When a victim pushed back or said she wanted to leave, it got worse.On March 14, 2019, a federal jury found Sharmistha Barai and her husband Satish Kartan guilty of conspiracy to obtain forced labor and two counts of obtaining forced labor.
Victims flew from India and Nepal to testify. According to evidence presented at trial, the defendants struck one worker on multiple occasions. Barai threatened to kill her and throw her bones in the garbage, backhanded her across the face for talking back, and slammed her hands down on a gas stove, causing her to suffer first and second degree burns on her hands from the flames. The defendants also threatened several other victims to coerce them to keep working, including by telling the victims they would report them to police or immigration authorities if they tried to leave. Throughout the victims’ time in the defendants’ home, they were deprived of sleep and food. The defendants subjected the victims to verbal abuse and harassment in an effort to intimidate them into continuing to provide labor and services.
Besides conspiracy to obtain forced labor and two counts of obtaining forced labor, Satish Kartan was found guilty of fraud in foreign labor contracting by the grand jury.
The sentencing of Satish Kartan is scheduled for October 22, 2020.