Aug. 22 (UPI) -- A Texas couple was sentenced to six months in federal prison for a scheme that involved subjecting a Cambodian immigrant to indentured servitude to pay off a family debt, U.S. attorneys announced this week.
Tyno Keo, 38, and, Phearom Lay, 34, of Nacogdoches, Texas, each pleaded guilty to alien harboring for financial gain between September 2012 and May 2013. According to prosecutors, Lay's sister owed them $50,000 for shared family medical expenses.
To pay off the debt, Lay's sister coaxed the victim, who is unnamed in court documents, into getting a tourist visa to go to Texas to provide cleaning and childcare duties for the couple, as well as work at their doughnut shop.
The $50,000 debt was then assumed by the victim, who was expected to work it off while getting paid $1,000 per month, of which a portion was withheld to pay off the debt.
Keo and Lay also are accused of confiscating the victim's passport and keeping her in Texas past the expiration date of her tourist visa.
"The defendants violated immigration laws and exploited a vulnerable individual who lacked immigration status, requiring her to work long hours for little pay," Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement.
"These types of crimes happen more than people know," added U.S. Attorney Joseph Brown.