By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North American News Bureau
Posted at 12/11/2010 10:48 AM | Updated as of 12/11/2010 10:48 AM
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida – Two Filipinos found guilty of victimizing 39 Filipino guest workers were sentenced to prison.
Sophia Manuel, 41, alleged mastermind of the human trafficking operation, was sentenced to 78 months in prison. Alfonso Baldonado, 45, received a 51-month prison sentence.
Manuel and Baldonando own Quality Staffing Corporation Services that obtained cheap labor by making false promises to entice Filipinos to come to the US as guest workers
Their 39 victims were Filipinos who paid up to $5,000 in recruitment and placement fees for jobs in the US. Many ended up jobless in Florida and buried in debt in the Philippines
Other victims were forced to provide cheap labor and services to some hotels and resorts in south Florida.
The victims said they were repeatedly threatened with arrest and deportation if they failed to perform their jobs.
One of the plaintiffs, said Manuel and Baldonado have victimized more people.
“They should receive the maximum prison sentence because there are other victims who have not yet stepped forward to complain against them,” he said.
Fil-Am lawyer Marissa De Guzman-Cobb, former Assistant Attorney General in the State of Florida, assisted the Filipino victims in prosecuting the defendants.
“It is my belief that justice was served. The judge was well within his discretion to exact the sentence that he did. I think he found the statements by the Filipino victims extremely compelling,” De Guzman-Cobb said. Balitang America