An Upper Marlboro couple has pleaded guilty to harboring a Filipina women they brought to the United States under false pretenses to work for them as a domestic servant.
Court documents say the women worked for and lived with 74-year-old Alfred Edwards and 60-year-old Gloria Edwards from 1999 to 2009.
In Octoboer 1998, they arranged for the women to come to the United States under false pretenses and paid another person $5,000 for help arranging the woman's travel and fraudulent visa, according to the couple's plea agreements.
Over the 10 years that the woman worked for them, the couple also took steps to fraudulently obtain permanent resident status for her and arranged a sham marraige, court documents say.
The two pleaded guilty in federal court in Greenbelt to harboring an alien. Each could receive a sentence of up to five years in prison. Sentencing hearings are scheduled for September.
With the plea deal, the couple avoids a trial on the much more severe charges they faced after a June 2011 indictment. The indictment alleged that they enticed the woman to come to the United States by falsely promising her a salary that would support her family in the Philippines, confiscated her visa documents after she arrived and used threats and assaults to force her to work 13 hours a day.
If they had been convicted of those charges, which included forced labor conspiracy, forced labor, document servitude and other offenses, the two could have faced up to 50 years behind bars.