- Kishan Modugumudi, 42, and his wife Chandrakala Purnima Modugumudi, 37, were arrested in 2018 for bringing young actresses to the U.S. on temporary visas and forcing them to stay in a dingy apartment building while waiting for their next “date.”
The fate of former Telugu film producer Kishan Modugumudi, 42, who ran a Chicago-based sex-trafficking ring along with his wife, Chandrakala Purnima Modugumudi, 37, will be decided at the end of the month during the sentencing hearing. Modugumudi pleaded guilty in February 2020 to a count of sex trafficking-related to one victim. His wife also pleaded guilty to sex trafficking for her role in the scheme.
With the June 24 sentencing trial a few weeks away, federal prosecutors are asking for up to 34 years in prison for Modugumudi, the Chicago Tribune reported on June 3. According to the report, prosecutors described him as “a predator who preyed on the hopes and dreams of young, innocent Indian women with dreams of coming to the United States and advancing their careers.” In a separate filing on June 3, prosecutors asked Kendall to sentence Chandra to up to 27 years behind bars, the report added.
The Modugumudis were arrested in 2018. A 42-page criminal complaint accused the couple of bringing young actresses to the U.S. on temporary visas and forcing them to stay in a dingy apartment building in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood while waiting for their next “date.”
During the trial, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall held a closed-door hearing with some of the Modugumudis’ victims. An unidentified actress told Kendall that the couple likely thought none of them would show up to “talk against them,” the Chicago Tribune reported, citing the June 3 court filings.
The Modugumudis advertised the girls, some as young as 16, for sex at Indian conferences and cultural events across the country. The couple charged clients up to $3,000 for each sexual encounter, which took place in hotel rooms in Chicago, Dallas, New Jersey, Washington and elsewhere, according to prosecutors. A 2018 report in the Deccan Chronicle said Modugumudi and his wife used letterheads of various Telugu associations around the U.S. to facilitate the visits of the actresses involved in the racket.
Sometimes Modugumudi resorted to physical and sexual assault of the victims; and at times he threatened to disclose their names which would result in maligning their reputation and destroying their careers, the court documents revealed, according to the Chicago Tribune. He also took lewd photos of some of the victims and kept them to blackmail them into silence.
When federal agents searched the Modugumudis’ apartment in February 2018, they found detailed ledgers of the sex acts performed by each girl, including where they occurred and how much they collected, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing prosecutors. The ledgers showed that the couple had taken in at least $617,000 from forcing the victims to engage in commercial sex acts, prosecutors said.
Even after he was arrested and held without bond, Modugumudi attempted to disclose information about the victims “to gain sympathy in Indian media and make good on his threats to destroy his victims’ lives if they dared to speak out against him and his wife,” court documents said. “Investigators were able to stop the attempt after they intercepted emails he had sent to an Indian reporter from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago,” the Chicago Tribune said.
The case has been touted as a wake-up call to alleged sexual misconduct which is reportedly rampant in the Telugu film industry or Tollywood. According to Reuters, “an estimated 200,000 women and children in India are forced into prostitution every year, many lured by opportunities to model or act in films.”
(Top photo, courtesy indialegallive.com)