Feds Find Indentured Servant In 34-Room Mansion

Annie George's 30,000-square-foot mansion in upstate New York includes 34 rooms, a helicopter pad, a five-story glass elevator, 15 fireplaces, 24-karat gilded gold ceilings, an indoor swimming pool shaped like a sailboat, and an indentured servant, forced to work 120 hours a week and sleep on the floor of a walk-in closet.

George appeared before a federal magistrate yesterday on charges of encouraging and inducing an illegal alien to reside in the United States. The servant, known only as "V.M." in court documents, was from the same region of India as George and her husband, Mathai Kolath George, a successful hotel developer and brother of a renowned Bollywood actor, director and producer. Mathai Kolath George died in a plane crash, along with the couple's 11-year-old son, in the summer of 2009.

V.M. first entered the U.S. in 1998 and worked as a domestic servant for a United Nations employee in the New York City area, according to the court filing. In 2005, she left this job, invalidating her visa, and began work for the Georges, who promised to pay her $1,000 a month.

The servant told federal agents that over the following 5½ years, she cooked, cleaned and cared for the Georges' five, and later six (and later five again), children from 5.45 a.m. until 11 p.m. in the evening, every day of the week. Over her entire course of employment, she never had a personal day, sick day, or doctor's appointment. She also never filled in any employment application or tax documents.

An investigation by the Department of Labor determined that V.M. should have been paid a minimum of $206,000 for her period of work. She told agents that she was actually paid $29,000 -- or 81 cents an hour. Most of the money was transferred in cash to V.M.'s son in India.

V.M. told agents that she was never able to visit her son in the half decade that she worked for the Georges. Her employers told her that she lacked the proper immigration documents. They once took her to meet with their attorney to get them, she told agents, and withheld $4,000 from her pay for the fee. V.M never got any documents.

On a tip to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, agents came to investigate the George estate in May last year. The woman who answered the door denied knowing V.M., and only after being shown a picture, admitted that she'd "seen V.M. around," according to the court filing. At that time, George had taken V.M. to the basement, and advised her to stay there. Only after V.M. had spoken to a lawyer -- one hour and 45 minutes later -- was she permitted to leave with her possessions.

Last summer, agents received, from V.M.'s son in India, recordings of three phone calls in which a woman who is almost certainly George is telling him what his mother should say to authorities. V.M. was a relative, the caller emphasized, who was staying as a guest.

"If she says anything about working, it would become a crime," the woman was recorded as saying. "They'll start adding up all the taxes and everything, for all this time."

After her appearance before a federal magistrate on Tuesday afternoon, George was released without bond.

The 12-acre Llenroc estate seems to be cursed. George's husband was trying to sell it for $30 million when he and his son tragically died in a crash into the Mohawk River. It was originally built in the 1990s, by the insurance magnate and philanthropist Albert Lawrence, before he filed for bankruptcy, went to federal jail for fraud, embezzlement, and tax evasion, and was diagnosed with terminal cancer two months later.


Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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Mike

and why didn't she just leave?

March 17 2012 at 11:20 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
lynffin

nice. the richie gets released on her o.r. while the servant is probably sitting in an i.c.e. cell, awaiting her 1-way trip back to her son. hope he saved some of the 29 grand! i wonder how long, after she gets all settled in back home, before she starts missing her closet. if i lived in india, i'd probably jump at the chance 2 sleep on what is probably a nice thick pad covered by thick, lush carpeting.
and, why are those kids up until 11pm?! and then up at 5:45am?? they are probably monsters because they're not getting enough sleep! (if she's charged with caring for them, hate to say it but that's kind of on her....)
anyway, i'm sure when the judge and/or jury hears the evidence about the house being cursed, the case will get dismissed anyway.

March 16 2012 at 1:53 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
daniel g

This woman needs to go to prison for many years.

March 13 2012 at 4:22 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Zee Madman

Yes Virginia aka @Patty Mcb there is a Bolly Wood! I wish that it weren't the Truth, but Sadly, Unfortunately it is the Truth. It's from India, & Pakistan. Soap Operas & Rip Off's of Holly Wood BlockBuster Movies. The CatterWailing, Screaming, Bad, Odiously, Revoltingly Bad Movies that are the products of their Minds. With their own Actors/Actresses of course. Singing, if You can call it that, Dancing, again if You Could call it that, & all Manner of Bad Costumes, Sets, & their Own Directors. Wanna use the Producers Daughter, Why Not! I can't even watch them with the Sound Turned Off. It's Sends a Chill Up My Spine. Wars have Started Over Less. What, We haven't Bombed these People yet? Well here's the Excuse You've been waiting for! Porky Pig in Apocalypse Now, The Howwwor, The Howwwor, The Howwwor! They turn out these T.V. Movie, Soap Opera, things by the Hundreds, or even Thousands. Google/Bing It & You'll see. Once You've seen it, even Burning out Your Eyes with a Road Fussee won't get rid of the Image in Your Brain! Hey I Tried to Warn You. Now it's on You! Imagine the Worst Porno Scene You've ever seen. Pizza Delivery & The Plumber at the Same Time! Well at least that has Porn in it! Really, did We NEED A Plot Here?

March 11 2012 at 1:00 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Patty Mcb

Bollywood? LOL typo!

March 09 2012 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Patty Mcb's comment
Lisa

Not a typo. The movie spot in India is Bollywood.

March 13 2012 at 1:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
daniel g

Are you that ignorant that you've never heard of bollywood?

March 13 2012 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dan

they ARE in that untouchable 1%! I bet they get thier "hands slapped" nothing more. Just IMAGINE what would happen to someone who did that stuff and lived in a totally different realm, say lived IN the city, made 65000 a year.. ........this is the CRUX of our problems. the 2 seperate morals and punishments.......

March 05 2012 at 9:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wahidkhasim73wahid

Must be of different 'kasta' or lower caste, they live in the USA but their greymatter is still Indian . . . .and GREED don't forget GREED

March 04 2012 at 8:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
p j

That's all she's being charged with ?? Encouraging an illegal to stay and reside in the U S ?? What about holding her against her will ? Surely there will be criminal charges..will she be made pay V M what is actually owed her ? V M wasn't knowingly breaking the law, George was . I am so tired of the rich getting away with crimes of any nature.

March 03 2012 at 3:59 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Henry

This is why the 1% are the 1%! Get ready as they plan to do this to EVERYONE, just like poor old APPLE does in China!

March 02 2012 at 4:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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