A Pennsylvania couple is headed to federal prison for smuggling a Nigerian woman into America so she could be their “slave,” in the words of a judge, CBS News reported.
John and Godever Ibechem admitted that they brought the woman into the country illegally to take care of their two toddler sons, ages 1 and 2, by having the woman use Godever’s deceased mother’s passport on the flight.
In America, the victim took care of the couple’s children around the clock—even sharing a small bedroom with the boys—only getting a small payment of $20 every two weeks, reported Lehigh Valley Live.
She wasn’t just expected to babysit—she also cooked and cleaned for the couple, and “essentially became a slave,” in the words of U.S. District Court Judge Edward G. Smith. Prosecutors said she was conned out of $205,000 in wages.
“I felt trapped. I thought I was going to die,” she said, in a letter read in court during the couple’s sentencing.
The couple, who were born in Nigeria, claimed that their nanny was hardly a slave, despite not making even minimum wage.
"I'm not one who would have somebody in my house and treat someone with indentured servitude," said John Ibechem. "That's not my nature. That's not in my family's nature.”
The couple could have received more prison time, but there was no evidence that the victim was being held against her will by threat of violence, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
The victim turned them into police when she began having health problems and the couple, fearing discovery of her undocumented status, didn’t take her to the necessary doctors, the nanny alleged.
She will receive $50,000 from the couple as a part of their plea agreement.
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