Indian-origin couple charged with committing forced labor

Richmond, VA: An Indian-origin couple from Virginia has been charged for allegedly subjecting an immigrant, who is their relative, to forced labour and physical abuse at a convenience store they owned.

A federal grand jury returned a seven-count indictment on Wednesday charging them with conspiracy to commit forced labour, alien harboring for financial gain, and document servitude, along with fraud-related charges – conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud and fraudulent transfers in contemplation of bankruptcy in connection with the case, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Prosecutor said, Harmanpreet Singh, 30, and Kulbir Kaur, 42, used “various coercive means”, including confiscating the victim’s immigration documents and subjecting him to physical abuse, threats of force and other serious harm and, at times, degrading living conditions, to compel him to work extensive hours for minimal pay between March 2018 and May 2021. The victim, who is Singh’s cousin, was not identified by his name.

They forced the victim to provide labour and services, including working as the cashier, preparing food, cleaning and managing store records, at Singh’s store in North Chesterfield.

The defendants allegedly confiscated the victim’s immigration documents and subjected him to physical abuse, threats and degrading living conditions at a convenience store in North Chesterfield, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a statement.

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