A Nigerian-born couple in Pennsylvania, U.S. has been sentenced to federal prison for sneaking a Nigerian woman into the country so she could essentially become what a federal judge called a slave." According to The Express-Times in Easton, John and Godever Ibechem were sentenced on Thursday, March 16th to each serve nine months in federal prison.
The couple acknowledged they plotted to smuggle the woman in to care for their two young boys and failed to pay her minimum wage. She was paid about $20 every other week to provide around-the-clock care. The woman was 54 when she posed as John Ibechem's mother, who was actually dead, and she used the mother's passport to enter the U.S. unlawfully.
"I felt trapped. I thought I was going to die," the woman, who did not appear, said in a letter read on Thursday in federal court.
Prosecutors say she was swindled out of about $205,000 in wages, though the attorney for the Ibechems says they also sent money to her family in Nigeria.
"The nanny essentially became a slave," District Court Judge Edward Smith said.
However, John Ibechem said he wouldn't treat anyone like an indentured servant.
"That's not my nature. That's not in my family's nature." he said.
The Ibechems agreed to pay the nanny $50,000 as part a plea deal. Speaking to Express-Times, the couple's lawyer, Defense attorney Gilbert Scutti said: "I 'm not going to say it was all roses when she was here, but were are not talking about physical abuse, sexual abuse or deprivation of liberty'.