couple, perfume owner to pay $1 mn in slave case
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y, July 12, 2008, 2008
U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Spatt awarded
nearly $1 million in back wages to two Indonesian women, Samirah
and Enung (Nona), who were kept slaves by the NRI couple, Mrs Varsha
Sabhnani and Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, both are US citizens.
On Friday, the federal judge ruled that the workers were
entitled to double the amount of unpaid wages.
Judge Spatt said:
- We're making the litigation on this point
- He was aware that his interpretation of the law likely would
be carefully scrutinized by a federal appeals court
- Both Indonesian women deserved the money
because they "were beaten, tortured and subjected against
their will," while they worked 24/7/365
- The women did not earn overtime pay during those summer months
when the Sabhnani family spent time in their native Indonesia.
- Samirah worked from 2002 to May 2007, was awarded $620,744.
- Enung worked from Jan. 2005 to May 13, 2007, was awarded $315,802
- The federal government could seize the Sabhnanis's $2 million-house
and even their multimillion-dollar perfume company to cover all
Stephen Scaring, aattorneys of Mahender
Murlidhar Sabhnani argued:
- Samirah and Enung deserve about $250, 000, was reasonable.
- The award request was based on "absurd calculations. Restitution
is to restore someone, not to enhance the victim
- Samirah and Enung "are not entitled to a windfall.
Scaring declined to comment after the rulling.
Jeffrey Hoffman, lawyer of Varsha Sabhnani said:
- We continue to believe the Court of Appeals will reverse the
convictions and the financial judgments."
Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani was sentenced to 3 years and 4 months
in prison and his wife, Varsha Sabhnani
11 years in prison last month.
enslaving two women,
NRI Mahender Sabhnani gets sentenced 3 1/3 years on Friday
after his wife jailed for 11 years on Thursday
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y, June 28, 2008
On Thursday, NRI Mahender Sabhnani
cried throughout the hearing, dabbing his eyes,
and his body shook constantly when a judge ruled that his wife must
serve out her sentence behind bars for 11 years. Next day on Friday,
NRI (non-resident Indian) Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, a millionaire
was sentenced to 3 1/3 years and fined $12,500 of helping his wife
keep two Indonesian housekeepers as virtual slaves.
In December, 2007, NRI Mahender Sabhnani
was convicted on a 12-count federal indictment that included
forced labor, conspiracy, involuntary servitude and harboring aliens.
The defense attorney Stephen Scaring, said:
- The mister didn't know about it. The mister was nice. The mister
didn't hear. The mister didn't shout- recounting the victims'
testimony while arguing for home confinement instead of prison.
The prosecutor, Mark Lesko said:
- Mahender Sabhnani
was the master, by holding slaves,
he violated every notion of freedom that we enjoy in America.
- He had to know what was going on under his roof, and he needs
to be punished
- The punishment that escalated into a cruel form of torture,
ended in May 2007, when one of the women fled and wandered into
a Dunkin' Donuts wearing nothing but rags. Later, Dunkin' Donuts's
employees called the police
Judge Arthur Spatt said:
- Although Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani did not personally inflict
abuse, he must have been aware of it.
- He is a success story as an immigrant who came to US and succeeded
in business. He had to know all these dreadful things and did
wife, Varsha Sabhnani jailed for 11 years and her husband Mahender
schedule to be sentenced on June 27, 2008 for
enslaving two women
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y, June 27, 2008
NRI Varsha Sabhnani has been jailed for 11 years for
keeping two Indonesian women as slaves. Her husband, Mahender Sabhnani
is yet to be sentenced on Friday
- The couple, Mrs Varsha Sabhnani and Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani,
both and US citizens, brought the two women, identified as Samirah,
51, and Enung, 47, to the United States from Indonesia with promises
to pay $US200 a month for housekeeping duties.
- Both women were beaten with brooms, scalded with hot water and
forced to eat hot chilli peppers as well as forced to carry out
household duties.The were being given so little food that they
sometimes ate garbage. They also were forced to sleep on mats
in a basement kitchen,
- Both women testified at the trial of Mahender and Varsha Sabhnani
that they were forced to work 19-hour days, seven days a week.
- Both women are entitled to more than $1.1 million in back wages
from the couple
Defence lawyers, Stephen Saring and Matthew Brissenden said:
- Both women made up the story and were delusional.
- The Labor law "explicitly exempts live-in domestic servants"
from earning overtime pay, and that prosecutors failed to subtract
the cost of room and board for the women.
- Samirah was entitled to $365,401 for the 53 months she was at
the Sabhnani home, and Enung $185,333 for the 24 months she was
there, the government then doubled the amounts
In addition to prison, Varsha Sabhnani was fined $25,000. Varsha
- I just want to say that I love my children very much as two
of her grown children looked on.
- I was brought to this earth to help people who are in need.
Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, her husband wept as his wife's sentence
Mahender Sabhnani allowed to remain free on bail in slave-labor
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y, May 19, 2008
The federal judge complained Monday that he was misled by a man
convicted with his wife in a modern-day slavery case, but allowed
him to remain free on $4.5 million bail until he is sentenced next
U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Spatt said, "Mahender Sabhnani
has definitely taken advantage of the court." Sabhnanis had
been free on bail package that included strict conditions until
he is sentenced on June 27:
- House arrest by armed security guards and cost will be paid
- To make arrangements for the care of his four children, who
are in their teens and early 20.
- To make accommodations for the operation of his international
- Permission to attend business meetings in Manhattan, he had
little notion the meetings would be held at such late hours
- He may only leave home to visit his wife in jail, his attorneys,
his doctor or to attend religious services.
- "No more business dinners and I gave him a break which
I feel he took advantage of.
Prosecutors said Mahender Sabhnani was charged with the same crimes
as his wife because he allowed the conduct to take place and benefited
from the work the women performed. The judge revoked his wife-Varsha
Sabhnani's bail, ruling that she had been the one who inflicted
physical punishment on the housekeepers- two Indonesian housekeepers
to work 18 or more hours a day in their mansion.
Sabhnani and his Indonesian wife convicted
enslaving two Indonesian women
could face up to 40 years in prison
- New York, Dec.
NRI Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51, and his Indonesianwife, Varsha
Mahender Sabhnani, 45, were each convicted of all charges in a
12-count federal indictment that included forced labor, conspiracy,
involuntary servitude, and harboring aliens.
One of the couple's daughters, Dakshina, collapsed in the front
row and her mother went to comfort her, and she also fainted.
The judge to postpone the remaining court proceedings until Tuesday,
including the scheduling of a sentencing date.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Hoffman and Fellow defense lawyer Stephen
- We would appeal. "Apparently, the jury was taken by the
histrionics ..." of the Indonesian women, he said.
- Another of the Sabhnanis' children, daughter Tina, told him:
"We never did anything to anybody. How could this happen
to us in America?
- We contended the two women concocted the story of abuse as
a way of escaping the house for more lucrative opportunities.
They argued the housekeepers practiced witchcraft and may have
abused themselves as part of an Indonesian self-mutilation ritual.
They also said the couple went on frequent vacations that would
have given the two women ample opportunity to flee.
The prosecutors called it a case of "modern-day
slavery. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Lesko said, "This
did not happen in the 1800s and this happened in the 21st century.
- Aug 22, 2007:
New York: NRI Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51 and wife Varsha
Mahender Sabhnani, 35, were released on $4.5 million bail after
agreeing to strict house arrest in their mansion. They have been
in custody since they were arrested in May.
Jeffrey Hoffman, defense attorneys for the couple said, "They're
happy, thrilled to be going home to their family." Varsha
Sabhnani is originally from Indonesia, and her husband is from
India; both are U.S. citizens. Prosecutors argued that the Sabhnanis
could have a strong motive to flee, noting that the charges carry
prison terms of up to 40 years upon conviction.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Platt initially denied bail
for the couple but was overruled by an appeals court last month.On
Tuesday, Judge Thomas Platt agreed to allow the Sabhnanis to
return to their home in Muttontown under a strict security restraints
that includes 24-hour armed guards on the property.
The couple will also be required to wear electronic monitoring
bracelets and their telephone and Internet connections will
be monitored by a private security firm.The couple have to to
hire a court-appointed security team to watch their every move
at a cost of about $10,000 per day.
The couple's U.S. passports were confiscated after their arrest
in May. The trial is scheduled to start in October.
- June 27, 2007: New York: NRI (non-resident
Indian) Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani a multimillionaire couple
accused of enslaving and torturing two Indonesian servants , have
a won a legal battle as an appeals court has ruled that they are
eligible for bail before the trial begins. The judge told the
prosecution to submit the conditions under which the couple could
be released. The decision overruled the ruling of June 01, 2007
for $3.5 million bail
under strict conditions
- June 01, 2007: NRI millionaire got bail under
- $3.5 million bail permitted
- Home detention, 24-hour surveillance, and
telephone wiretaps- All expenses on the detention will be
paid for by the couple
- They would not permit to leave the house
except for visiting doctor, attorneys and temple. No packages
or messages would be allowed.
millionaire couple held for keeping servants as slaves
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y, May 18, 2007
Mrs Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 35, and NRI Mahender
Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51 are charged for keeping two Indonesian women
servants as prisoners in their Long Island home for the last several
years. They were charged under a federal law that makes it illegal
to force someone to work under threat of violence.
The Indonesian women were identified in court papers
as Samirah and Nona and both women arrived in the US in 2002 legally.
They took their passports and they were not permitted to leave the
The Couple promised to pay the two Indonesian women,
payments of $200 and $100 a month but the women never received any
money from the couple. One of the women said they sent $100 a month
to her daughter in Indonesia.
The federal prosecutor Demetri Jones said, "No
one would ever think that human beings were being brought into the
United States and held for slave labor, and beaten, and tortured
in a beautiful mansion right here in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods
on Long Island."
The Couple were arraigned in U.S. District Court in
Central Islip on charges under a federal anti-slavery statute of
obtaining "the labor and services of another person by use
of threats of serious physical harm to and physical restraint against
Mrs Varsha Mahender Sabhnani's bail for was set at
$2.5 million and for her husband, Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani at
$1 million. They were ordered by a judge to hand over their U.S.
passports. If convicted, each faces a sentence of between 17 to
22 years in prison.
An assistant United States attorney for the Eastern
District, Demetri M. Jones told Magistrate Tomlinson that the couple
were a flight risk and should be held without bail for the duration
of their prosecution because they had extensive business and family
contacts throughout Asia.
The prosecutors said:
- Mrs Varsha Sabhnani tortures the woman when she unable to find
an item of clothing or believing that the women were stealing
food. Her husband allowed the torture to go on.
- The women were beaten, forced to take about 30 showers in 3
- She had scalding water thrown on them
- The women had to climb up and down the stairs as much as 150
times in a row
- One lady even had to eat 25 hot chili peppers at one time
- The women had to sleep on mats on the kitchen floor.
- The women worked 21 hours a day from 4 am until 1 am.
- The women were not allowed to leave the house for any reason
except to take the garbage out.
- One lady was cut behind her ears with a pocket knife.
- The two women also told the investigating officers that they
were never given sufficient amounts of food, and so they had to
steal food and hide it from their employers.
- The visas of both women, as was admitted by the Sabhnanis to
the police, had expired and they were being kept illegally.
The employees of a doughnut shop called the police when they saw
woman was wearing only pant and a towel draped around her shoulders.
Police immediately took Samirah to the hospital for treatment of
obvious physical injuries to her face, arms, neck, chest, back,
and cuts behind her ears, which were allegedly inflicted by Mrs
Varsha Sabhnani with a pocket knife.
The police got a search warrant to search the home. They found
the other woman, Nona hiding in a 3 ft by 3 ft closet under stairs
leading to the basement.
NRI Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani have a perfume business and operate
from their 2.5 multimillion dollar home. He owns a trademarked popular
perfume named "Royal Mirage", which he sells through several
corporations, including Royal Mirage Corp., RTD International, Eternal
Love Perfumes Corp., PVM International Corp., and Meena Arjan Corp.
He has factories in Asia and another home in Manhattan. Their bank
account has $1.8 million in it.
NRI (non-resident Indian) Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani married to
Varsha, an Indonesian. The couple have four children: Pooja, 22;
Tina, 20; Dakshina 19; and Rahul, 17. Their two daughters away at
college and a younger son and daughter living at home.
Their lawyers, Charles A. Ross and Alexandra Tseitlin of Manhattan,
said the accusations against the Sabhnanis amounted to nothing more
than “an assault allegation.” The lawyers also claim
the women were free to leave at any time, that his clients traveled
a lot with business. He claimed they are "law abiding citizens."
The Sabhnani's pleaded not guilty.
Expert says: It is not usual for the employers of domestic servants
to be charged under a 2000 federal law that bans human trafficking.
Most prosecutions under that law have involved traffickers in prostitution.