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Indian American Couple From Virginia Sentenced for Forcing Immigrant Relative to Work at Their Businesses

Indian American Couple From Virginia Sentenced for Forcing Immigrant Relative to Work at Their Businesses

  • Along with the several years in prison, Harmanpreet Singh, 31 and Kulbir Kaur, 43, will pay the victim $225,210.76 in restitution.

An Indian American couple of Chesterfield, Virginia, was sentenced yesterday (June 25) for forced labor of an immigrant relative at their gas station and convenience store for over three years. Harmanpreet Singh, 31, was sentenced to 135 months in prison and Kulbir Kaur, 43, was sentenced to 87 months in prison, according to the Department of Justice. Additionally, the court ordered the now divorced couple to pay the victim $225,210.76 in restitution.

Singh and Kaur were found guilty in January of conspiracy to commit forced labor, forced labor, harboring for financial gain and document servitude. According to evidence presented at trial, in 2018, Singh and Kaur enticed the victim, Singh’s cousin and then a minor, to travel to the United States from India with false promises of helping enroll him in school. After the victim arrived in the United States, the defendants took his immigration documents and instead forced him to provide labor and services at Singh’s store for over three years, between March 2018 and May 2021.

The forced the victim to provide labor and services at Singh’s store, including working as the cashier, preparing food, cleaning, and managing store records, the press release said, evidence presented at trial.compelled the victim to work at the store — including cleaning, cooking, stocking and handling the cash register and store records — between 12 to 17 hours a day, nearly every day, for minimal pay Singh and Kaur used various coercive means, including confiscating the victim’s immigration documents and subjecting the victim 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.

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They also left the victim at the store to sleep in a back office for days at a time on multiple occasions, limited his access to food, refused to provide medical care or education, used surveillance equipment to monitor the victim both at the store and in their home, refused his requests to return to India and made him overstay his visa. The defendants also forced the victim to marry Kaur and used that marriage to threaten to take the victim’s family’s properties or falsely report him to the police if he left. The evidence showed that Singh pulled the victim’s hair, slapped and kicked him when he requested his immigration documents back and tried to leave and, on three different occasions, threatened the victim with a revolver for trying to take a day off and for trying to leave.

“The defendants exploited their relationship with the victim to lure him to the United States with false promises that they would help enroll him in school,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The defendants confiscated the victim’s immigration documents and subjected him to threats, physical force and mental abuse to coerce him to work long hours for minimal pay. This sentence should send a strong message that such forced labor will not be tolerated in our communities.”

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