Secaucus woman gets nearly 6 years for enslaving Sri Lankan national for 9 years

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A Secaucus woman was sentenced to nearly six years in prison for forcing a Sri Lankan national to marry her and enslaving her for nine years, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division announced.

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

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Alia Imad Faleh Al Hunaity, also known as “Alia Al Qaternah,” 44, was sentenced to 70 months in prison today for her conviction on charges of forced labor, alien harboring for financial gain, and marriage fraud, authorities said.

She was found guilty in May 2019 on all counts of the indictment against her following a six-day trial before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler, who imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.

Hunaity brought the victim, a Sri Lankan national, to the United States on a temporary visa in 2009 to perform domestic work and purposely caused the victim to overstay her visa and remain in the United States illegally for over nine years.

She also forced the victim to cook and clean her homes in Woodland Park and Secaucus, as well as to care for her three children – all without pay.

Additionally, Hunaity limited the victim’s interactions with the world outside of Hunaity’s homes. During this time, she required the victim to sleep on a bed in public areas in her homes, including in the kitchen.

In 2018, Hunaity forced the victim to marry her so that the victim could obtain legal residence and Hunaity could continue to force her to work without fear of the victim being deported.

In addition to the prison term, Kugler sentenced Al Hunaity to three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay restitution of $1.2 million.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito and assistant Attorney General Dreiband credited special agents of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael, and special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, New York Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael C. Mikulka, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

This case was prosecuted in conjunction with the interagency Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team initiative of the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor.

ACTeams focus on developing high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions involving forced labor, international sex trafficking and sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion through interagency collaboration among federal prosecutors and federal investigative agencies.