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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Three Men Charged in Human Trafficking Conspiracy for Exploiting Thai Farm Workers in Hawaii

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Friday, August 28, 2009
Three Men Charged in Human Trafficking Conspiracy for Exploiting Thai Farm Workers in Hawaii

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced the indictment of Alec Souphone Sou and Mike Mankone Sou, owners of Aloun Farm in Hawaii, and Thai labor recruiter William Khoo late yesterday for engaging in a conspiracy to commit forced labor and visa fraud. The charges arise from the defendants’ alleged scheme to coerce the labor and services of Thai nationals brought by the defendants to Hawaii to work under the federal agricultural guest worker program. Both Sou defendants are also charged with conspiring to commit document servitude.

The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If convicted, Alec and Mike Sou each face maximum sentences of 15 years in prison and William Khoo faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Alec Sou, Mike Sou and William Khoo conspired and devised a scheme to obtain the labor of 44 Thai nationals by enticing them to come to Aloun Farms in Hawaii with false promises of lucrative jobs, and then maintaining their labor at the farm through threats of serious economic harm, according to the indictment. They arranged for the Thai workers to pay high recruitment fees, which were financed by debts secured with the workers’ family property and homes. Significant portions of these fees went to the defendants themselves, as alleged in the indictment. After arrival at Aloun Farms, the Sou defendants confiscated the Thai nationals’ passports and failed to honor the employment contracts. The Sou defendants maintained the Thai nationals’ labor by threatening to send them back to Thailand, where they would face serious economic harms created by the debts. The indictment also charges that the defendants engaged in a visa fraud conspiracy by making false representations in documents filed to obtain employment-based visas.

This case is being investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This case is being prosecuted by trial attorneys Susan French and Kevonne Small of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Q/A: What's is the difference between being "Arrested", "Charged", "Sentenced", or "Placed in Alternative Sentencing" ???

These terms are used by USICS when addressing whether a petitioner has a criminal history. Is important to understand the difference.

Arrested -- This means that you were taken in to custody by the police. Once you are taken in to custody, it will be decided if you will be charged with a crime. Someone who is arrested is not necessary charged with a crime.

Charged -- Once you are in the custody of the police, the prosecutor's office (aka state attorney, district attorney) will decide whether to charge you. If you are charged, you will be given a charging document (sometimes also called complaint or information). This charging document will state exactly what crimes (charges) you are facing.

Sentenced -- Being sentenced means that the "punishment" you got when you admitted (pled) you are "guilty" or when the judge/jury decided you were "guilty". If you were placed in jail/prison, probation, community service, or mandatory classes, you were sentenced.

Alternative Sentencing -- Sometimes called "differed sentencing". A court may require you to satisfy certain conditions (such as community service, classes, etc) in exchange for a dismissal.

Q/A: What documents should be included if you have a criminal history ?

For most petitions and applications, you will need to submit additional evidence/documents if you have been arrested, charged, sentenced, or been placed in alternative sentencing. You will want to include a "charging document" (sometimes also called a complaint, information, or traffic citation), final orders (ie what happened in the case, and some documentation that you completed any sentencing (sometimes called final disposition). Different counties, cities, and states use different terminology for the foregoing, so it is important to describe to the clerk what you are looking for.

If you have lived in different places around the U.S., it is advisable to do a national criminal history check on yourself. These are available online for a small fee. Once you have this report, which will usually include case numbers, you will then call each court clerk individually to get a copy of the file.


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