Prison After Decade of Harboring Filipino

     (CN) – A Maryland couple who kept the passport of a Filipino woman they employed for “little to no salary” over a decade will go to prison, a federal judge ruled.
     In their previous guilty pleas, Gloria and Alfred Edwards admitted that they arranged in October 1998 for a woman to enter the United States from the Philippines under false pretenses.
     To cover the costs of the woman’s entry, including obtaining a visa under false pretenses, Gloria Edwards paid $5,000, the Justice Department said.
     The woman meanwhile failed to disclose the true purpose of her visit, or that she would be residing with the Edwards, when she reached the United States in May 1999. Her name is not mentioned in the government’s press release, which refers to her only as “the victim.”
     It is unclear whether she is still in the country, but the government did say that the Edwards “took steps to fraudulently obtain permanent resident status for the woman, including arranging a sham marriage.”
     After Gloria Edwards drove the woman to Upper Marlboro, Md., she remained there until August 2009, providing the couple with low-cost labor as a domestic servant and aide for Gloria Edwards’ elderly mother.
     Testimony at the sentencing hearing revealed that the Edwards took the woman’s passport and made her sign a contract stating that she would have to pay the Edwards $20,000 if she were to leave their service, so that they could replace her, prosecutors said.
     It is not clear from the press release why or how the woman “left the residence in
     August 2009.”
     Chief U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow in Greenbelt sentenced 61-year-old Gloria Edwards to a year and a day in prison. Her husband, 74, will serve three months. Both also face supervised release and owe $369,580.80 in restitution to their victim.
     Upon release from prison, the Edwards “are prohibited from contacting or harassing the victim in any way,” the Justice Department said.
     They previously paid $6,716.20 “to satisfy the disputed amount relating to allegations that they misappropriated funds,” it added.
     The court imposed the sentence Tuesday and set the restitution award Thursday.
     U.S. Attorney Kristi O’Malley and trial attorney Cindy Chung prosecuted the case. The sentencing announcement came from U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein with help from Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin Jr. and FBI Special Agent Stephen Vogt.

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