Feds Arrest Mansion Dweller In Servant Case

Illegal alien slept in closet, was paid .85/hour


View Document

Family Abused Maid

FEBRUARY 29--A New York woman who lives in a 34-room, 30,000-square-foot mansion is facing a federal criminal charge related to her employment of an illegal alien who allegedly served as a domestic servant in a “forced labor situation” that included her working 17-hour days, seven days a week, and sleeping in a walk-in closet.

Acting on a tip received by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, federal immigration agents last year removed the servant from the 12-acre estate (pictured below) on the Mohawk River in Rexford, a hamlet 20 miles north of Albany.

A subsequent criminal investigation determined that the woman--who barely spoke English and came from the Kerala state in India--was paid about 85 cents an hour during the 67 months she worked for Annie George and her husband (who died in a plane crash in mid-2009).

The servant, identified only as “V.M.” in a court filing, cooked for the George family, cleaned the sprawling mansion, and cared for the couple’s five children.

The George estate has a helicopter pad, an indoor swimming pool, 15 fireplaces, Scandinavian marble flooring, a four-story solarium, 24-karat gold gilded ceilings, a glass elevator, and an array of other features. Before his death, George’s husband listed the residence for sale at $30 million.   

According to a criminal complaint filed Monday against Annie George, 39, the servant entered the U.S. on a non immigrant visa in 1998 to work for the family of a United Nations employee. She began working for the Georges in late-2005 after being offered about $1000 per month, a substantial pay increase.

In reality, “V.M” received sporadic minimal payments from the Georges. A U.S. District Court complaint estimates that the servant received about $29,000 over the five-and-a-half years she worked for the family. A U.S. Department of Labor investigation determined that the woman was “lawfully entitled” to a minimum of  “approximately $206,000 for the entire approximate six years of V.M.’s work.”

The servant told federal agents that she received no personal or sick time while employed by the Georges, nor was she afforded any dental or medical treatment. She had to sleep in a closet in a bedroom shared by the family’s three daughters, the complaint alleges, because “Annie George required that V.M. be near the children at night.”

Investigators charge that after “V.M.” was removed last year from the mansion (which can be seen in this aerial photo), George spoke three times with the woman’s son in India. During one telephone call, George suggested that the “son tell his mother to tell authorities that she was a relative of George’s family and was only staying at George’s house as a guest.”

During the conversation, which the son recorded, George warned, “if she says anything about working, it would become a big crime. They’ll start adding up all the taxes and everything, for all the time.”

Charged with encouraging and inducing an illegal alien to reside in the U.S., George appeared yesterday afternoon before a federal magistrate, who released her without bond. (7 pages)