[Stop-traffic] News/US: Prosecution net to widen in case of landlord importing workers

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/US: Prosecution net to widen in case of landlord importing workers
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Sep 22 2000 - 09:26:18 EDT


Prosecution net to widen in case of landlord importing workers
By Lisa Fernandez
The San Jose Mercury News, September 13, 2000

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A federal prosecutor said in court Tuesday that the
investigation into a sex-and-fraud case against a prominent Berkeley
landlord is widening, indicating that more arrests are likely.

Appearing in an Oakland courtroom, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kennedy
said a grand jury is expected to "add additional defendants" by Oct. 5 in
the case against Lakireddy Bali Reddy, 62, and his son, Vijay Kumar
Lakireddy, 30.

Reddy was charged in January with eight felony counts, including importing
immigrants for immoral purposes and transporting minors for illegal sexual
activity. His son was charged with three counts, including submitting
fraudulent visa applications.

Father and son have entered not guilty pleas.

The two _ who are free on bail _ sat silently in court Tuesday, surrounded
by a handful of friends. At times, Lakireddy would circle his arms around
his father's back, as if in a hug. Reddy appeared tired and drawn.

According to prosecutors, the pair petitioned immigration officials for
visas on behalf of workers they claimed would be employed at one of their
companies, Active Tech Solutions in Berkeley. Instead, the workers were
employed at Reddy's apartment buildings, office buildings and restaurants,
according to authorities. Prosecutors allege that Reddy arranged for the
illegal entry of one woman and two girls into the United States and
repeatedly had sex with them. One of the girls died of carbon monoxide
poisoning in November in a Reddy-owned apartment. Her death helped spur the
investigation.

Neither of the two defense attorneys _ Ted Cassman nor George Cotsirilos _
would comment on the prosecutor's announcement in court Tuesday. Kennedy
did not specify how many others could be charged, or what their alleged
roles are in the case. He also didn't exclude the possibility of filing
more charges against Reddy or his son.

In April, the Berkeley Police Department released sketches of three East
Bay men described as "potential witnesses." Police Capt. Bobby Miller on
Tuesday said he had no idea if there was any connection between the men in
the sketches or any new suspects.

A third man was indicted in March in connection with the case and faces a
separate trial. Venkateswara Vemireddy was charged with two counts of
bringing an immigrant into the United States illegally and one related
count of conspiracy.

During Tuesday's hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong
delayed a ruling about whether Reddy should be charged with two counts of
smuggling young girls from India for "immoral purposes." Cassman, Reddy's
lawyer, had argued that the charges are "archaic" and "unconstitutionally
vague." But federal prosecutors argued that the term can be extended to
having sex with a minor, which carries a "near universal condemnation."

Age probably will be a key issue as the case progresses: Prosecutors
contend two of the female immigrants were younger than 18. Reddy's lawyer
maintains his client believed they were older.

A small group of South Asian women attended Tuesday's court hearing,
passing out fliers saying that whatever a victim's age, the relationship
with a boss or anyone else in a dominant position puts them at a disadvantage.

"It is not possible to truly give consent to someone who holds your entire
livelihood in their hands. You have to be on even ground to give consent,"
said Shaily Matani, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of South Asians Taking
Action.
Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator

Please contact me off-list for any questions about Stop-Traffic at
<<morhant@igc.org>>.

Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
Program for Appropriate Technology in Health
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