DOJ: Texas Couple Sentenced to Jail for Harboring Illegal Alien, Exploiting Her for Labor

By Natalia Mittelstadt | August 23, 2018 | 11:06am EDT
U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions heads Dept. of Justice (Screenshot)

A Texas couple was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty in federal court to harboring an illegal alien and exploiting her for labor, the Department of Justice said in a press release on Tuesday.

Both Tyno Keo, 38, and, Phearom Lay, 34, of Nacogdoches, Texas, were sentenced to six months in prison with two years of supervised release afterwards and ordered “to pay $5,000 each in fines and $41,024.31 in joint restitution.”

From September 2012 to May 2013, the couple “harbored the victim and required her to work long hours for little pay performing childcare, cleaning their home, and as an employee at their business, the Donut Palace.”

Lay’s sister was in Cambodia and “owed the defendants [Keo and Lay] $50,000 for shared family medical expenses.” The sister “arranged for the victim to obtain a temporary tourist visa and travel from Cambodia to the United States to work for the defendants.”

When the victim reached the United States, she received the debt that Lay’s sister owed. “Once the victim arrived in the United States, the defendants [Keo and Lay] took possession of her passport and visa, and continued to harbor and employ her after her visa expired in December 2012. The defendants paid the victim $1,000 a month for her labor and withheld a portion of it to repay the purported $50,000 debt.”

“‘The defendants violated immigration laws and exploited a vulnerable individual who lacked immigration status, requiring her to work long hours for little pay,’ said Acting Assistant Attorney General Gore of the Civil Rights Division. ‘This Justice Department will not tolerate this type of immigration and labor exploitation, and is committed to aggressively pursuing and prosecuting individuals who engage in such crimes.’”

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