Economist on the Lam Owes Escaped Slave $1M

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A former World Bank employee who apparently fled to Bolivia owes more than $1.1 million to a woman she enslaved for three years, a federal judge ruled.
     In a January 2012 complaint, Virginia Carazani claimed that Emma Zegarra lured her to the United States to work as a nanny, but then forced her “to work around the clock, seven days a week” for absolutely nothing.
     U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras granted Carazani’s motion for a default judgment last week after Zegarra “ignored a court-ordered motion to compel, failed to attend a court-ordered status hearing, and has been unresponsive to discovery requests since the filing of the April 27, 2012 status report.”
     Zegarra had initially cooperated with the case, but has since disconnected her phones and left the World Bank, according to the 34-page opinion.
     Carazani believes that Zegarra has fled to Bolivia, where Carazani’s sordid employment ordeal began
     Zegarra allegedly employed Carazani for eight years in the poor South American country, paying her $100 a month to care for her two children and do household chores.
     In 2006, Zegarra took a job with the World Bank and moved to Vienna, Va. The economist promised Carazani $7 an hour and a five-day work week with health insurance for her and her young son, plus overtime and sick leave if she would move to the United States to work for the family, Carazani stated in her complaint.
     Carazani said that as soon as she arrived in the United States, however, Zegarra “confiscated Ms. Carazani’s passport and papers, as well as the legal documents for her minor son.”
     “Ms. Carazani was unable to leave Zegarra’s home without passports for herself or her son,” the complaint stated.
     Zegarra allegedly forced Carazani to work as a domestic servant without pay for three years, constantly threatening and intimidating her to keep quiet about it.
     “In the entire three-year period, Zegarra never paid Ms. Carazani,” the complaint stated. “All the work that Ms. Carazani performed in Zegarra’s home was uncompensated, forced labor.
     “For the three years that she was held in involuntary servitude in the Zegarra home, Ms. Carazani received no vacation time, no six days, and no time off.”
     Carazani said received no health insurance, and, when she got sick, Zegarra “dropped her off alone at an emergency room. When the hospital bills arrived, Zegarra forced Ms. Carazani to request money from her own family members to cover the bills.”
     She also claimed that Zegarra threatened her with deportation when she asked about her pay.
     “In an effort to terrify Ms. Carazani, the defendant told Ms. Carazani that a device in her World Bank office allowed Zegarra to listen to Ms. Carazani’s phone conversations in the home,” her complaint stated. “The belief that all of her telephone calls were monitored prevented Ms. Carazani from telling her family about the abuse she was suffering the United States. By instilling fear in Ms. Carazani, the defendant kept Ms. Carazani isolated from the outside world. Ms. Carazani was unable to tell anyone she was being held in forced labor.”
     Carazani allegedly worked 75 hours a week, cooking, cleaning and caring for Zegarra’s teenage children.
     A good Samaritan and the FBI helped Carazani escape in 2009, according to the complaint. Carazani then provided the court with her employment contract, the prevailing wage determination policy guidance from the Employment and Training Administration, the prevailing wage rates for housekeepers from 2006 to 2009 in the Washington area, the federal minimum wage for that period, a weekly tabulation of the hours she worked, her medical expenses, her T-Visa and declarations from her mental health counselor.
     After entering a default judgment for Carazani, the judge used those documents to calculate damages.
     He awarded her $71,914.94 for breach of contract, $37,926.34 for quantum meruit, $102,606.21 in liquidated damages, $433,200 in emotional distress damages and $543,041.28 in punitive damages, totaling $1,188,688.77.
     The judge entered the ruling against Zegarra “because the defendant has repeatedly failed to comply with court orders or cooperate in discovery.”

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