CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) Two Indonesian housekeepers were subjected to "a cruel form of torture," a prosecutor said Monday at the trial of a millionaire couple charged with modern-day slavery.
In closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Lesko recited a litany of abuse, saying the women were scalded, forced to eat vomit, stabbed and forced to take freezing showers.
"This did not happen in the 1800s. This happened in the 21st century in Muttontown, N.Y.," he said.
Varsha Mahender Sabhnani and her husband, Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy and involuntary servitude. If convicted, they could face 40 years in prison.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Hoffman said at the beginning of his closing that complaints the maids voiced in letters to relatives in Indonesia were "gross exaggerations," and contended they made the claims to get better paying jobs in the United States.