Gavel

Three Midlothian residents have been charged with keeping a woman from Pakistan in forced labor for more than a dozen years.

A federal grand jury alleges that Zarida Aman, 77, and her children, Mohammad Nauman Chaudhri, 51, and Mohammed Rehan Chaudhri, 45, conspired to obtain the labor and services of a woman identified as “M.B.,” with threats to harm her or her children, physical restraint and by other means.

The defendants allegedly controlled and limited the woman’s access to food, at one point moving the refrigerator into one of their bedrooms to deny her food without their permission.

The conspiracy allegedly ran from March 2002 until August 2014. The three are also charged with forced labor and with keeping M.B.’s immigration documents.

According to authorities, in January 2002, M.B., then living in Pakistan, married a man identified as “S.C.,” who was living in Midlothian with the three defendants. The marriage was arranged by their families.

S.C. applied for and received a visa for M.B. to live legally with him in the U.S.; in March 2002, M.B. moved from Pakistan to the home in Midlothian.

The grand jury said that in 2006, S.C. moved to Pennsylvania and in 2008 to California, both times to practice medicine. M.B., however, remained at the residence in Midlothian. She and S.C. had four children from 2003 to 2008.

The indictment alleges that “the defendants, together with others known and unknown to the grand jury, required M.B. to provide labor and services in and around their residence, including, but not limited to, cleaning the residence, mowing the lawn, and painting the residence.”

“The defendants ... created a climate of fear by threatening M.B. with, and subjecting her to, physical, verbal, and psychological abuse. For example, the defendants locked M.B. out of the house for hours after an argument. When M.B. tried to run away from the home after being locked outside, the defendants went after her and forcibly brought M.B. back to the residence,” alleges the grand jury.

The indictment accuses the defendants and others of withholding information from M.B., providing false information to her about her immigration status, and confiscating her immigration and identification documents.

“The defendants, together with others known and unknown to the grand jury, isolated M.B. by restricting her ability to travel outside of the residence alone and by restricting her ability to communicate freely with individuals outside the residence, with guests inside the residence, and with M.B.’s family and friends in Pakistan and elsewhere.

“For example, Defendant Aman forbade M.B. from getting a driver’s license, although all other adult members of the household had driver’s licenses or learner’s permits.

They are also accused of alienating her from her children by limiting their interactions and causing the children to fear M.B.; in at least one instance, they required some of the children to abuse M.B.

“For example, the defendants kept M.B. isolated from her children and told school officials that the children’s parents lived out of state, and therefore, the defendants made themselves the primary guardians and points of contact for the children.

“The defendants, together with others known and unknown to the grand jury, threatened to abandon and deport M.B. and otherwise deny M.B. access to her children,” alleges the eight-page indictment.

Court records show all three appeared before a magistrate judge on Friday and were released on bond. An arraignment has been set for Monday before U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr.

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