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Nigerian couple face $250K fine, 20-year jail for luring two women to U.S.

The United States Department of Justice announced that after a two-week trial, a federal jury in Camden, New Jersey, found a Nigerian couple, Bolaji Bolarinwa, 50, and Isiaka Bolarinwa, 67, both from Burlington County, New Jersey, guilty of forced labor and other related crimes.

The convicted couple had coerced two individuals into domestic labour, including childcare, between December 2015 and October 2016.

Bolaji was convicted of two counts of forced labor, one count of alien harboring for financial gain, and two counts of document servitude.

Isiaka was convicted of two counts of forced labor and one count of alien harboring for financial gain. They were acquitted of a second count of alien harbouring for financial gain.

“Once Victim 1 arrived in the United States in December 2015, Bolaji Bolarinwa confiscated her passport and coerced her through threats of physical harm to her and her daughter, verbal abuse, isolation, and constant surveillance to compel her to work every day, around the clock for nearly a year.

“When Victim 2 arrived in the United States in April 2016, Bolaji Bolarinwa similarly confiscated her passport and coerced her to perform household work and childcare but relied more heavily on physical abuse,” the court heard.

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Speaking at the end of the trial on April 24, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke stated, “The defendants deceitfully lured the victims to the United States with promises of benefits but then betrayed them.”

She emphasised that they confiscated the victims’ passports, threatened, degraded, physically abused, and kept them under constant surveillance to exploit them for profit.

U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger added, “These defendants engaged in an egregious bait-and-switch, luring the victims with false promises of a life and an education in the United States, and instead subjected them to grueling hours, physical abuse, and psychological abuse.”

The Department of Justice noted that a sentencing hearing will be scheduled later. Both defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each forced labor count and 10 years for the alien harbouring count.

Bolaji faces an additional maximum penalty of five years in prison for each unlawful document conduct count.

They will also have to pay mandatory restitution to the victims and fines up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

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Bridget Benson
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