A couple residing in Katy has been taken into custody following the filing of a criminal complaint alleging forced labor, withholding documents, conspiracy to harbor an illegal alien and visa fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Chudy and Sandra Nsobundu, 56 and 50, respectively, were arrested today and expected to make their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. The criminal complaint was filed under seal Feb. 5, 2016, and automatically unsealed upon their arrests today.
The victim is a 38-year-old Nigerian national. According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, she was subjected to physical and verbal abuse while employed by the Katy couple and regularly referred to as “the idiot.” The victim allegedly worked every day from 5:30 a.m. until 1:00 a.m. and was responsible for cleaning the house, making meals and taking care of five children. The criminal complaint alleges she was told she could not watch television or even sit down during her work hours. She was also allegedly told to sleep on the floor and could not use warm water to bathe or wash her hair. The affidavit also claims that she was not allowed to eat fresh food and was only permitted the leftovers from the previous prepared meals. Further, if the victim even wanted some milk for her tea, she would have to actually strain the milk out of the children’s cereal bowls, according to the allegations. In one instance of alleged abuse, the criminal complaint charges that Sandra Nsobundu drug the victim by her hair and hit her across her face because she did not like the socks the victim put on one of the children.
The victim did not have access to a phone and could not communicate with her family, according the charges. Her movements were mostly limited to the residence and allegedly only allowed out for short walks with the youngest children around her block. The charges outlined in the complaint indicate the victim also did not have access to her passport and other travel documents.
The defendants had previously agreed to pay the woman 20,000 Nigerian nairas – $100 U.S. dollars per month, according to the charges. The Nsobundus allegedly never paid the victim for any of her work here in the U.S.
The victim was rescued Oct. 10, 2015, after more than two years with the Nsobundus in the U.S., following a tip to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
If convicted of forced labor, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison. For visa fraud, the maximum penalty is a 25-year-federal prison term, while the withholding documents and harboring conspiracy carry as possible punishment a maximum five and 10 years, respectively, upon conviction. All of the charges could also result in a $250,000 maximum fine.
The investigation leading to the filing of criminal charges was the result of an investigation conducted by members of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance in Houston, which includes Homeland Security Investigations, Fort Bend Sheriff’s Office and the Department of State -Diplomatic Security Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie N. Searle and Ruben R. Perez are prosecuting the case.