Wealthy widow AVOIDS jail after keeping maid as a virtual slave for more than five years and ‘making her sleep in a closet’ in her 20,000-square-foot mansion

  • 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

By  Associated Press

PUBLISHED: 14:36 EST, 9 July  2013 |  UPDATED: 14:42  EST, 9 July 2013

V.M. worked for Annie George (pictured) and her late husband at their 20,000-square-foot mansion 

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.

AnnieAnnie

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 

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.

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