NRI Pulse News Desk
Atlanta, GA: A 41-year-old Indian-American millionaire socialite, Annie George, of upstate New York, was sentenced Tuesday to five years’ probation, including eight months of home confinement with a monitoring device, for keeping an Indian woman in the country illegally, reports Huffington Post.
Annie George was convicted in March of harboring Valsamma Mathai illegally at her 20,000 sq. ft. mansion near Albany. She was acquitted of keeping the woman for financial gain, though prosecutors alleged she owed Mathai $317,000 for 5 1/2 years of work while Mathai said she was paid only $26,000 that was mostly sent to her family in India.
U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe gave no fine but ordered George to forfeit her sprawling, 34-room mansion as a financial penalty. The mansion has a helicopter pad, a massive solarium, and glass elevator. He imposed a harsher sentence on the 41-year-old woman than either defense or prosecutors requested because she lied in her trial testimony, said Huffington Post.
“This is not the crime of the century,” Sharpe said . “I respect the fact that there is an absence of prior criminal conduct. The aggravating factor for me is you took that stand, swore to tell the truth and you lied, lied about details about Valsamma Mathai and you tried to hoodwink the jury. You lied through your eye teeth
Valsamma Mathai, 49, testified that she was held in the Llenroc Mansion for six and a half years as she worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and slept in a walk-in closet.
Mathai, an undocumented immigrant from India, said she was picked up at a New York bus station by George’s late husband Mathai Kolath George, who spoke her native tongue and offered a job that would pay $1,000 per month. George’s husband died in a plane accident in 2009.
When she arrived, however, Mathai claims she did not have her passport or visa, and was rarely allowed to leave the house.
She further claims she has only been paid $29,000 since and investigators are saying the woman is entitled to $77,000 for the last two years and about $206,000 for the entire six years of employment, reports HuffingtonPost.com.
The minimum wage for New York State is $7.25 per hour for a standard 40-hour work week, which calculates into George only reimbursing the maid $.85 per hour.
It wasn’t until the National Human Trafficking Resource Center received a tip from the woman’s son, who prosecutors said recorded a conversation with George, that agents came to her rescue. A criminal complaint was filed last March. An affidavit by special agent Daria Botten said the woman recounted asking George, also known as Annie Kolath and Sajimol George, and her husband to let her return to India, but was told she lacked the necessary immigration documents. George brought her to see an attorney, and deducted $4,000 from her pay, but she never got documents.
George is facing a charge of harboring an undocumented immigrant, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
According to the Huffington Post report, exacerbating the charges is George’s apparent colossal wealth, which boasts a 34-room mansion, helicopter pad, a massive solarium, and glass elevator.
George’s lawyer, Donald Kinsella, told The New York Post: “The woman was not a servant, and she [George] wasn’t keeping her in the house or anything else.”
“We just dispute what’s alleged in the complaint. There’s several exaggerations, gross errors.”