Pennsylvania ‘slave’ owners sentenced to federal prison

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A Pennsylvania couple will each spend the next nine months in federal prison after being convicted of having thwarted immigration laws to sneak a Nigerian woman into the country so that she could work as their nanny for “slave wages,” according to a report in the New York Daily News.

John and Godever Ibechem of Easton, PA, are both natives of Nigeria, and admitted in court that “they used deception to get the woman into the country to care for their two sons, ages 1 and 2, and didn’t pay her minimum wage,” the NY Daily News reported.

According to Leahigh Valley Live, John Ibechem, 60, moved to the U.S. from Nigeria when he was 20, and has a master’s degree.  His wife, Godevre Ibechem, 45, works as a nurse’s aide and has a bachelor’s degree.

The couple slipped the victim, who was then 54, into the U.S. by using the passport of John Ibechem’s deceased mother, claiming the victim was his mother.

District Court Judge Edward Smith observed, “The nanny essentially became a slave,” according to reports, which noted that the victim testified through a written letter and did not appear in court. “The victim was paid around $20 every other week as she provided around-the-clock care for the kids. Prosecutors charge she was conned out of about $205,000 in wages.”

“I felt trapped. I thought I was going to die,” wrote the woman in her letter. A neighbor helped the Nigerian woman escape to a safe house.

“While she was free to leave the Ibechem home, she couldn’t drive and had no friends to go to for help. She had no reason to trust police given the corruption that was a part of her native culture,” according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Davison, noting that the woman “had no life. She was invisible and they knew it and they took advantage of it.”

When the woman became sick, she wrote in her letter that she felt the Ibechems weren’t willing to seek proper medical care for her, fearing that her status as an illegal alien would be discovered by authorities.

Now that the case has been decided, Davison said that it’s not clear whether or not she will be permitted to stay in the country.

H/T: Lehigh Valley Live

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