- Annie George, 41, sentenced to five years’ probation, eights months of home confinement
- Judge ordered George to forfeit her $1.9million Llenroc stone mansion in Rexford, NY
- Widow was acquitted of treating Valsamma Mathai as a slave for financial gain
- Mathai was removed in May 2011 after her son in India called the National Human Trafficking Resources Center
PUBLISHED: 14:36 EST, 9 July 2013 | UPDATED: 14:42 EST, 9 July 2013
Punishment: Annie George, 41, was sentenced to five years’ probation and forfeiture of her 20,000-square-foot mansion
An hotelier’s widow in upstate New York has been sentenced to five years’ probation, including eight months of home confinement, for keeping an Indian servant in the country illegally.
Annie George, 41, was convicted in March of harboring an illegal alien at her stone mansion in rural Rexford, 15 miles northwest of Albany.
She was acquitted of treating the woman as a slave for financial gain, although prosecutors alleged George owed Valsamma Mathai $317,000 for 5 1/2 years of work while Mathai said she was paid only $26,000 that was mostly sent to her family in India.
A federal judge in Albany also ordered the widow to forfeit the 20,000-square-foot mansion as a financial penalty.
Defense attorney Mark Sacco says he’ll file notice of appeal, which will halt the mansion seizure. He says authorities estimated its value at $1.9million and his client owns about 10 per cent.
George had faced a possible penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing Tuesday.
The George family had employed Mathai as a live-in maid at their suburban 26-room Llenroc estate for more than five years.
During her sentencing, Judge Gary Sharpe lambasted George for lying about her association with Mathai when she testified in her own defense last March.
‘You tried to hoodwink that jury!’ Sharpe told the defendant after noting that her case ‘is not the crime of the century.’
The judge imposed a harsher sentence on the 41-year-old woman than either defense or prosecutors requested.
Lucky break: George had faced a possible penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but she was acquitted of enslaving her maid for financial gain
George’ defense attorney said that the issue of truthful testimony came from a garbled tape with different voices on it, produced by the maid’s son in India, and George denied it was her voice.
According to Sacco, his client, didn’t initially hire the maid and was left with the situation after her husband and oldest son died in a 2009 plane crash.
George was to begin serving the home confinement sentence immediately, Sacco said, and the mansion seizure will be halted during the appeal process.
Federal prosecutors recommended eight months of home detention, 200 hours of community service, two years of probation and a $20,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Belliss in court papers said George deserved a harsher penalty under federal guidelines than the defense sought because she tried to obstruct investigators in 2011.
While knowing her servant was in the U.S. illegally, George kept her even after her husband died because it was convenient and probably cheaper than hiring someone legally, he wrote. Sharpe agreed, saying the obstruction also reflected trial testimony.
During the trial, Mathai had testified that she slept in a closet, worked 17-hour days without vacation, days off or sick time and wasn’t allowed to leave the property, a palatial stone mansion on a cliff overlooking the Mohawk River.
The case surfaced when Mathai’s son in India, Shiju Mathai, called the National Human Trafficking Resources Center in 2011.
In March, George testified that the tape recording of a phone call between a woman and Shiju Mathai wasn’t her voice.
On the call, the woman warns Shiju there could be dire consequences, even jail time, for his mother if she was to tell authorities about working in the United States.
Palatial home: V.M. worked in the George family’s more than 20,000-square-foot stone mansion called Llenroc, 15 miles northwest of Albany
‘If she says that she’s working here, that’s a big problem,’ George told the son, according to Belliss. ‘They’ll put her in jail for sure.’
At another point, George allegedly said: ‘All it took was one person to say something and look what has happened now.’
The widow testified that she was left in desperate financial straits when her husband died in 2009.
She said she knew nothing of his business dealings, including the arrangement to have Mathai live with them, because he required her to stick to her duties as his wife and mother of their six children and severely punished her if she tried to make any decisions in the home.
Her late husband, Mathai George, was a native of India who built a hotel and real estate development business in the United States.
Deal gone awry: The woman hired in 2006 to work for the Georges as a live-in domestic servant for $1,000 a month
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