Feds: Secaucus woman forced Sri Lankan national to marry her, enslaved her for 9 years

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A Secaucus woman forced a Sri Lankan national to marry her and then enslaved her for nine years, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced. 

U.S. District Federal Court in Camden. Photo via waymarking.com.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Alia Imad Faleh Al Hunaity, a/k/a “Alia Al Qaterneh,” 43, of Secaucus, was indicted on December 4th on charges of forced labor, alien harboring, and marriage fraud.

She was arraigned yesterday before U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler in Camden federal court and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges. She remains free on $150,000 unsecured bond.

Hunaity allegedly brought the victim to the United States on a temporary visa in 2009 for the victim to perform domestic services.

Afterwards, Hunaity caused the victim to overstay the victim’s visa, and the victim remained in the United States illegally, living exclusively with Hunaity for more than nine years, authorities said.

Hunaity forced the victim to work without pay, and limited the victim’s interactions with the outside world, officials said.

In 2018, Hunaity forced the victim to marry Hunaity for the purpose of obtaining legal residence for the victim so that the victim could continue to work without pay for Hunaity, according to court documents.

Hunaity was arrested on Sept.19, 2018, and made her initial appearance that day before U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Cathy L. Waldor.

The forced labor charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and the alien harboring and marriage fraud charges each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The charges subject Hunaity to a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to others, whichever is greater.