Los Angeles, Calif. (08/21/2017) – A wealthy Los Angeles couple has pled guilty to one count of human trafficking and one count of being an accessory after the fact, after being indicted by a grand jury. Astati Halim and Hendra Anwar, who previously pled guilty in federal court to misuse of visas and minimum wage violations, held three Indonesian immigrants as indentured servants, withheld their passports and paid them virtually nothing. The couple, who had initially pled not guilty, was prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. CASE Treasurer Rama Maline represented The People on the appeal for the case.
Halim and Anwar, originally from Indonesia, own several properties in the Los Angeles area where they employed several domestic workers from Indonesia, including the three victims. The wealthy couple lured the victims to California by obtaining fraudulent visas for them and promising a two-year work contract paying $250 a month with a $50 living stipend. Before leaving for the United States, the victims were forced to sign a five-year contract instead. Once they arrived, they were made to clean, cook and perform yardwork for 16 hours a day, with no days off. After years of abuse, one victim escaped and contacted the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking (CAST).
Halim and Anwar were prosecuted by the federal government and pled guilty to misuse of visas and minimum wage violations. Following their sentencing of probation, fines and community service, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the couple for the separate charge of human trafficking in the State of California.
In May 2015, a grand jury was convened, and after hearing the testimony of the victims, the defendants were indicted for three counts of human trafficking and one count of conspiracy to commit human trafficking, and pled not guilty. In March 2016, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the indictment based on the violation of their 5th Amendment rights, claiming the indictment put them in double jeopardy for already being tried on the federal level.
The court denied the motion to dismiss, finding that the prosecution on the State level for human trafficking is an entirely different charge from the misuse of visas and minimum wage violations they were tried for on the federal level. The defendants then entered into plea agreements with the L.A. District Attorney. Halim pled guilty to one count of human trafficking and Anwar pled guilty to being an accessory after the fact. Halim and Anwar were sentenced to formal probation for three years and were ordered to pay various fines and fees. If and when their further appeals fail, they will likely be deported to Indonesia.