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Sep 25th
Home Sections Womens Section Filipina’s UAE Employer Wants His Criminal Case Dismissed
Filipina’s UAE Employer Wants His Criminal Case Dismissed PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Women's Section
Thursday, 04 August 2011 12:16

 

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

 

C HICAGO (jGLi) – United States prosecutors have asked the U.S. District court in Providence, Rhode Island to deny the motion of a United Arab Emirate colonel for acquittal in a criminal case for “materially false and fraudulent statement and for presenting to Special Agents of [ICE] a document that he had paid all employment wages” to his Filipina servant, Elizabeth Cabitla Ballesteros.

 

Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi is expected to make a ruling on the motion very shortly.

If Col. Arif Mohamed Saeed Mohamed Al-Ali’s motion is granted, the civil case against him will resume. If his motion is denied, the defense will start presenting its case as the prosecution represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Rogers has rested its case last Monday.

 

Jim Martin, spokesperson of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Rhode Island, told this reporter over the phone that it is hard to tell how long the “jury-waived” trial will last.

 

If found guilty of the criminal offense on one count, Colonel Al-Ali “shall pay a maximum fine of $250,000 and will get a maximum imprisonment of five years.”

Under the federal law passed by the U.S. Congress after 1996, it is prohibited for anyone to make “false statements in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the Government of the United States,” except “to a judicial proceeding, or that party’s counsel, for statements, representations, writings or documents submitted by such party or counsel to a judge or magistrate in that proceeding.”

 

Mr. Al-Ali was charged with one-count of “did knowingly and with intent to defraud, recruit, solicit and hire a person outside the United States for purposes of employment in the United States by means of materially false and fraudulent pretense, representation, and promises regarding that employment.”

 

For count two, Al-Ali was accused of presenting to (U.S.) Special Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement a document representing that he had paid Ms. Ballesteros “all employment wages” from July 2010 to June 2011, when in fact said claims and said document were false, as the defendant well knew.”

 

$1,600 A MONTH PLUS $10 PER HOUR OVERTIME PAY

 

A ccording to the civil case filed by Samuel C. Bodurtha of Rhode Island and Ivy O. Suriyopas of New York city-based Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Al-Ali contracted Ms. Ballesteros to care for his youngest four-year-old child for “eight hours per day in exchange for $1,600” a month plus U.S. $10 per hour for each hour over 40-hour week work from July 10, 2010 to Oct. 7, 2010.

 

But Al-Ali merely paid Ballesteros only 700 U.A.E. dirham (US$190) in August 2010 by sending this money to her family in the Philippines and another 800 U.A.E. dirham (US$220). She worked from 6:00 a.m. up to 11:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday for 119 hours per week.

 

It was while the civil case was pending when the U.S. government filed a criminal case against Al-Ali, prompting Ballesteros’s lawyers to put her civil case on hold.

 

Ballesteros was one of two servants of Al-Ali in UAE when Al-Ali decided to take her to the United States as he went on schooling at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

 

When Ballesteros arrived with Al-Ali’s family of seven, including Al-Ali’s wife, Sama Alharmoodi, and their children aged 17, 16, 13, 8, and 4, in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, Al-Ali withheld her wages, took her passport, and told her not to speak with outsiders while working for him in Rhode Island.

 

Al-Ali warned Ballesteros not to escape “because the whole navy is behind” him.

 

SHE CAN’T TALK BUT SHE CAN WRITE

 

B allesteros arrived in the U.S. in July 2010 after working for Al-Ali’s family for three years in the United Arab Emirates.

 

The house at East Greenwich was “very large, two stories with a three car garage, and both tennis courts and a swimming pool.” When she asked for a cell phone to communicate, Al-Ali refused, telling her to pack her things up and that she was going home to Cagayan Province in the Philippines. Ms. Ballesteros repacked her stuff and waited in her room but Al-Ali never came to her room to drive her back to the airport.

 

Ms. Ballesteros then began to prepare the evening meal for the family and the cell phone issue was not raised. Later a cell phone was found in the house and Al-Ali bought a SIM card for it and gave it to Ballesteros.

 

On Aug. 6, 2010, the Newport Naval War College held a picnic for international war college students, their sponsors, members of the college and their families. Al-Ali took his family and Ballesteros to the picnic.

 

While Ballesteros was taking the children to the bathroom facilities, another Filipina noticed Ballesteros and asked her if she was a Filipina. Ballesteros shook her head and indicated she could not speak. But she gave the Filipina a piece of paper and scribbled in Tagalog, “Please help me, I need your help” and wrote her cell phone number in it.

 

The Filipina later contacted the Philippine Consulate in New York City for help.

 

The Consulate, in turn, sought the help of an Asian-American Legal organization.

It was on the morning of Oct. 7 when the Filipina drove by Al-Ali’s home and picked up Ballesteros, who left behind a letter, telling Al-Ali that “she loved the children.” She also left behind the cell phone found in the East Greenwich home.

 

During cross-examination by Al-Ali’s defense lawyer, Robert C. Corrente, Ballesteros acknowledged that she did not read her contract with Al-Ali before signing it. Earlier, when Ballesteros demanded the $1,600 monthly salary from Al-Ali, he told her the contract was merely a “piece of paper.” # # #

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 

 


 

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