- Dr. Firdos Sheikh of Elk Grove, Calif., was accused of hiding a Mexican and a Nepalese national on her property for five years and forcing them into labor.
A judge in the Eastern District of California has dismissed an indictment filed against Indian American neurologist, Dr. Firdos Sheikh, 58, of Elk Grove, Calif., who was accused of hiding a Mexican and a Nepalese national on her property for five years and forcing them into labor.
In 2018, she was indicted on two counts of forced labor, two counts of alien harboring for financial gain, one count of obstructing a forced labor investigation, and one count of making false statements to federal agents. She faced 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
Dr. Sheikh denied the claims and said she never had workers live on her property. She also stated that one accuser did not work for her. Dr. Sheikh was not in custody when the indictment was dismissed.
As per a June 22, 2018 Department of Justice press release, between October 2008 and June 2013, Sheikh “harbored and concealed two victims on her property and other locations and forced them to provide labor and services for her financial benefit.” In July 2013, she allegedly lied to federal agents and attempted to hide one of the victims from the agents in order to obstruct their investigation.
The Sacramento Bee reported that the indictment was dismissed on the basis of the Sixth Amendment and the Speedy Trial Act of 1974. As per the Sacramento Bee report, the claim filed in court by Dr. Sheikh’s defense on Sept. 18, said her right to a speedy trial was hindered by repeated court hearing delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With no time remaining on the speedy trial clock, the government is asking the court to put Dr. Sheikh’s life on hold for an incredibly long period of time in order to bring her to trial, while she and her family continue to endure the cost, stigma, and emotional damage of incredibly weak criminal charges,” wrote Yasin M. Almadani, counsel for Dr. Sheikh and a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of California.The Eastern District courthouse in Sacramento has been closed to the public since March.
“This entire prosecution has been a nightmare for me and my family,” Dr. Sheikh said in a press release issued by Almadani law. “I have been trying to plead my innocence for years and I am thankful the Court dismissed the case.”
In the press release, Almadani said the court “thoughtfully weighed” the interest of his client and the public and “came to the only fair conclusion.” DescribingDr. Sheikh as a “honest, hard-working woman who should never have been prosecuted,” Almadani said: “It is more important now than ever for prosecutors to set priorities, examine evidence carefully, and pursue only righteous cases. In this case, the court found that the government had not disclosed exculpatory evidence showing significant weaknesses in its case”
He said the order “brought to light the multitude of issues courts currently face due to the COVID-19 pandemic and how each court must assess each case independently to determine what justice dictates.” According to Almadani, “Dr. Sheikh’s dismissal is a unique situation precipitated by the government’s delay in producing evidence supporting her innocence.”
Dr. Sheikh’s profile on zocdoc.com, says she completed her residency at University California Davis Medical Center. She was certified by the American Board of Neurology. Dr. Sheikh is affiliated with South Sacramento Neurology Medical Associates. Dr. Sheikh moved to the U.S. after finishing medical school in India.
(Top photo: Dr. Firdos Shiekh speaking at a protest staged at Elk Grove Unified School District on August 30.)