Filipina woman spends 2 years in involuntary servitude

A young Filipina woman who had to work for a Filipino vice consul spent two years in involuntary servitude.

On Thursday, the consul's mother-in-law pleaded guilty to exploiting Arlene Gado, 23, by paying her a fraction of what she was promised and forbidding her to leave the house without her employers.

Prosecutors said Gado agreed to come to the United States in 2005 to work as a nanny in the house of Anthony Mandap, a vice consul in the Consulate General of the Philippines in San Francisco. She was promised $8 (5.9 EUR) per hour for a 40-hour work week and $12 (8.8 EUR) an hour for overtime.

But Attorney General Anne Milgram's office said Gado instead was told upon her arrival in California that she was needed by Mandap's in-laws, Angelita and Norberto Reyes in New Jersey.

Gado's passport and visa were taken away, and she was told not to leave the house without family members because she would be arrested.

According to prosecutors, Gado provided continuous care to the incapacitated Norberto Reyes, cleaned the house, cooked all meals and was required to give massages, manicures and pedicures to relatives and friends of the Reyeses.

Gado was paid $250 (184.3 EUR) per month, pay that was increased to $325 (239.6 EUR) in July 2006 when she was required to begin caring for the Reyeses' infant granddaughter.

Gabo was able to talk by cell phone to a cousin in Michigan, who contacted New Jersey labor department officials.

"For two full years, the defendant controlled and exploited this victim, taking advantage of her youth and immigrant status," Milgram said. "Human trafficking takes many forms, but the common thread is exploitation of the vulnerable, particularly women and children."

Angelita Reyes on Thursday pleaded guilty to criminal restraint charges. Under the plea, Reyes must pay Gado about $78,000 (57,517 EUR) to make up the difference between what she was paid and what she was supposed to get under her contract.

Angelita Reyes could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

A message left for Mandap at the San Francisco consul was not immediately returned.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova