[Stop-traffic] News/US: ACLU in Berkeley landlord case

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/US: ACLU in Berkeley landlord case
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Oct 18 2000 - 21:17:23 EDT


ACLU in Berkeley landlord case
Lawyers to assist teenagers brought over from India
By Henry K. Lee
The San Francisco Chronicle, October 18, 2000

BERKELEY -- The American Civil Liberties Union will help represent those
who may have been victimized by a Berkeley landlord accused of smuggling
teenage girls from India for sex and cheap labor, attorneys said yesterday.

The teenage girls and others in the case involving Lakireddy Bali Reddy,
62, and his son, Vijay Lakireddy, 30, will be represented in part by
lawyers with the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project in Oakland, said
attorney Lucas Guttentag, project director.

``We want to ensure that the interests and legal rights of the victims are
fully protected,'' Guttentag said. The ACLU agreed to coordinate a team of
attorneys at the request of community organizations, he said.

Guttentag declined to specify the number of persons being represented or
detail any legal strategies separate from the federal prosecution,
including whether the defendants could face civil suits.

Reddy, Berkeley's wealthiest landlord, was indicted in February on federal
charges that he brought young Indian girls to Berkeley for sex and cheap
labor. Reddy could also face state charges of statutory rape.

Reddy and Lakireddy also face charges of submitting false visa applications
that allowed them to import the girls.

The case came to light after two girls who arrived from India in the summer
of 1999, 17-year-old Chanti Prattipati and her 15-year-old sister, were
overcome by carbon monoxide fumes in November in a Bancroft Way apartment,
where authorities said Reddy, the owner, had sex with them.

Prattipati died accidentally from the gas, and her sister survived.
Guttentag would not say whether that girl was among his clients.

A third defendant, Venkateswara Vemireddy, 30, allegedly posed as the
father of the two sisters and was indicted in March on charges of smuggling
them into the United States with the help of Reddy and Lakireddy.

Joining Guttentag will be ACLU attorney Jayashri Srikantiah, Oakland
immigration attorney Nancy Hormachea and San Francisco attorney Michael
Rubin, whose firm specializes in labor and employment law, immigrant rights
and civil-rights litigation.

A federal grand jury could indict other people in the case, prosecutors
said. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kennedy would not say yesterday whether
he had been in contact with the ACLU.

Reddy remains free on $10 million bail, Lakireddy on $500,000 bail and
Vemireddy on $50,000 bail. A hearing before U.S. District Judge Saundra
Brown Armstrong is scheduled for Tuesday.
Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator

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

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