LOS ANGELES (CBS) – A Paso Robles couple pleaded guilty today to federal charges of harboring Filipino nationals who were smuggled into the United States and employed in elder care facilities.

Federal prosecutors said Maximino Morales, 45, and Melinda Morales, 48, both natives of the Philippines, recruited undocumented immigrants to come to the United States to work as live-in caregivers at the four elder care facilities they operated.

“The Filipino workers illegally brought to this country with promises of decent jobs were instead subjected to abusive working conditions and threats designed to keep them working for less than the minimum wage,” said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr.

The couple entered a plea agreement into federal court in Los Angeles to conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, a felony that carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. According to the Morales’ plea, some of the workers were left alone to work 24-hour shifts for less than minimum wage. All of the aliens lived in the care facilities, and some slept in a closet, on a sofa, and in a walled-off portion of an unheated, attached garage.

The immigrants’ pay was credited against the “debt” they purportedly owed for being brought to the U.S., and they were told that police or immigration officials would arrest them if they tried to flee, according to court documents.

“The victims in this case displayed tremendous courage in coming forward, and their actions will likely embolden other victims to report these crimes, as well as raise awareness with others who may not recognize signs of alien smuggling and potential human trafficking,” said Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles.

As part of their plea agreements, Maximino and Melinda Morales agreed to pay restitution of at least $500,000 to 10 Filipinos who were not properly compensated for their work, prosecutors said.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (3)
  1. nowayjose says:

    F…ng Filipinos and they had to have Latinos last name to be confused with “Real Latinos” and because of the Filipinos the “Latinos” get blamed for everything. I don’t see any “Whiteies” leaving and “smart ass” comments

    1. Christine Densing says:

      Learn your history fool. The Spaniards came by and procreated with the natives. That’s one of the main reasons why Filipinos carry “Latin” names. SMH.

  2. Saber 1 says:

    At least they work, only thing is hide your dogs and cats or they will end up as the blue light special. I would rather have them as neighbors rather than bottom feeding ILLEGAL ALIENS.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

More From CBS Los Angeles

Weather Team
Goldstein Tipline

Watch & Listen LIVE