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Couple sentenced in Filipino immigrant smuggling scheme

February 13, 2012 |  3:30 pm

A man and his wife were sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison for their roles in recruiting  undocumented Filipino workers to California and forcing them to work at their elderly care facilities for less than minimum wage, prosecutors said.

Maximino Morales, 46, and his wife, Melinda Morales, 48, operated four Paso Robles facilities for the elderly where the immigrant workers lived under threat of being reported to police or immigration authorities.

The workers were allowed to leave the home on bicycles on days off but were warned not to take the bus because they would be subjected to immigration checks, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Jeff Mitchell. The workers lived in walk-in closets and attached garages, and during their shifts had to sleep on sofas or on hallway floors to be closer to patients, he said.

The couple was ordered to pay $600,000 in restitution to nine Filipino victims who were not properly paid for their work, prosecutors said.

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