Sharmistha Barai, 40, formerly of Stockton, California, was sentenced Friday, Oct. 2 to 15 years and eight months in prison for forced labor violations.
On March 14, 2019, after an 11-day trial, a federal jury found Barai and her husband Satish Kartan guilty of conspiracy to obtain forced labor and two counts of obtaining forced labor. Kartan is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 22.
“The United States abolished slavery and involuntary servitude more than 150 years ago,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “Yet, inhuman forced labor and deprivations of liberty and dignity persist because human traffickers are modern-day slave masters who endeavor to exploit their fellow human beings for profit and other gruesome purposes. The sentence imposed today sends a strong message that human trafficking and forced labor will not be tolerated in the United States. The defendant’s role in this scheme to compel the victims into servitude for up to 18 hours a day, with minimal pay, through intimidation, threats, and violence, is an unconscionable violation of the victims’ individual rights, freedom, and dignity. The Civil Rights Division remains committed to relentlessly pursuing justice on behalf of victims of human trafficking and holding perpetrators accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The defendants’ horrendous conduct, done in the privacy of their home, was publicly exposed during the trial,” said U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott of the Eastern District of California. “One by one the victims told their stories of the brutality they experienced: long hours of labor, inadequate food, and physical assault. Today’s sentence sends a clear message to others that systematic brutality against vulnerable victims will not be tolerated.”
“This sentencing sends a strong message: DSS is committed to ensuring that those who exploit and traffic individuals for personal gain will face severe consequences for their criminal actions,” said Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Matthew Perlman of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), San Francisco Field Office.
“No human being should be lured into servitude with promises of employment. This form of human trafficking is heart wrenching: victims are often assaulted and live their lives in fear behind closed doors where escape seems all but impossible,” said SAC Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “The FBI will stand with our law enforcement partners to investigate reports of human trafficking and ensure victims receive the services they need.”