A couple from the town of Harvard face up to 10 years in federal prison for charges including harboring an illegal immigrant after they allegedly brought a young woman to the United States to work for them as a nanny, taking her travel documents, telling her not to try to return home, and requiring her to work long hours, federal prosecutors said.
Martha Smalanskas, 47, and Richard Smalanskas, 48, hired a Bolivian teenager when she was 16 while they were in Bolivia. The young woman worked for the couple there for two years before being brought to the United States under false documentation that made it appear she was related to the couple, according to an indictment filed in US District Court in Boston.
Once in the country, prosecutors allege, the couple took away the young woman’s travel documents, and required her to work long hours cooking, cleaning, and taking care of their three children, an indictment filed in US District Court said.
Prosecutors allege the woman worked from about November 1997 to May 2011. The couple also allegedly told her not to try to return home or to get permanent resident status.
The indictment also alleges that the woman was promised a salary of up to $150 a month but was not frequently paid. The couple recorded in a ledger what they owed the young woman while deducting “expenses” the young woman owed from that amount, prosecutors said.
The couple also face a conspiracy charge.
Along with the 10-year prison sentence, if convicted, the couple also face three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
A US attorney’s spokeswoman said the couple haven’t been arrested. They are expected to surrender to the court at an undetermined date.
Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.