The attorney for the Lexington couple charged with harboring undocumented Indian Nationals took us on a tour of the couple's upscale home. It's alleged in federal court documents the couple had a hidden room and workers were held against their will. Here's the footage:
It's a nice home by any standard sitting in an upscale Lexington neighborhood. Inside is a place to pray, a required part of the hindu culture.
"This is part of their faith and part is to open their house up to provide food, lodging for people that need it," said attorney Mark Wohlander.
Lexington Police arrested Almutlal Patel and Dakshaben Patel last month on federal charges of harboring undocumented workers. Federal prosecutors say the Patels required four undocumented Indian Nationals to work ten to twelve hour days at their Lexington Subway restaurants, up to seven days a week, while being paid less than minimum wage and allegedly no overtime pay.
"I think in some of these cases it is difficult to discern what is help and what might be victimization," said Valarie Honeycutt Spears with the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Spears studied the federal affidavit submitted by US prosecutors.
"In the affidavits there was some reference to some sort of hidden room and workers who were held against their will," Spears said.
"I have to overcome this illusion or impression that's out there that there's a dungeon," Wohlander said while giving us a tour of the Patel's home.
Wohlander showed us a storage room, with typical storage stuff piled about. There was no sign, from our view, that anyone had been staying in there.
The Patel's charges are part of a growing caseload across the state, in which religious faith and alleged illegal activity intermingle in the courtroom-- with a defense claiming it's an issue of culture and a prosecution claiming it's an issue of liberty.