CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. – A wealthy couple accused of forcing two Indonesian housekeepers to serve as slaves in their New York mansion can be freed on bail, a federal appeals court said.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said in the ruling made public Monday that appropriate bail release orders should be executed based on the government's conclusion that there were conditions that would assure that the couple did not flee.
Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 35, and Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51, have been held without bail since they were arrested in May on federal charges of forced labor and harboring undocumented immigrants.
Varsha Sabhnani is originally from Indonesia and her husband is from India; both are U.S. citizens.
Their lawyer, Stephen P. Scaring, said he hoped the couple could be freed sometime this week.
"We're trying to get them out as soon as possible," he said. "They're excited to get home to their children."
Prosecutors allege that the couple held the housekeepers from 2002 to 2007 as virtual slaves, denying them freedom of movement, subjecting them to serious physical abuse and paying them no wages except for $100 a month sent to relatives abroad.