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CASE NAME:United States v. John Robert Farrell
ALL PLAINTIFFS:United States
ALL DEFENDANTS:John Robert Farrell, Angelita Farrell
CITATION:
DOCKET NUMBER:08-1559, 08-1561
SOURCE:DOJ/US Attorney Website or Press Release, Lexis Search
TYPE OF CASE:Criminal
RELATED CASE CITATION:
TYPE OF TRIAL:Jury
TRIAL JUDGE(S):Hon. Charles B. Kornmann
YEAR OF ARREST:2006
YEAR OF VERDICT:2008
TYPE OF COURT:Federal Court
STATE:South Dakota
FEDERAL DISTRICT:District Court
STATE COUNTY:
AGE OF VICTIM(S):Adult
NUMBER OF VICTIMS:9 +
GENDER OF VICTIM(S):Female and Male
VICTIM'S COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:Philippines
METHOD OF ENTRY INTO THE U.S.:H-2B visa
WAS VICTIM CHARGED WITH A CRIME:No
NUMBER OF DEFENDANT(S):2
GENDER OF DEFENDANT(S):Female and Male
TYPE OF INDUSTRY:Labor
CASE CATEGORIZATION:Domestic Servant, Hotel Industry
FIRST CHARGE:Peonage
FIRST CHARGE US/STATE CODE CITATION:18 U.S.C. § 1581
FIRST CHARGE VERDICT/PLEA:Guilty Verdict
FIRST CHARGE SENTENCE:
SECOND CHARGE:Conspiracy to Commit Peonage
SECOND CHARGE US/STATE CODE CITATION:18 U.S.C. § 371
SECOND CHARGE VERDICT/PLEA:Guilty Verdict
SECOND CHARGE SENTENCE:
THIRD CHARGE:False Statements
THIRD CHARGE US/STATE CODE CITATION:18 U.S.C. § 1001
THIRD CHARGE VERDICT/PLEA:Guilty Verdict
THIRD CHARGE SENTENCE:
FOURTH CHARGE:Visa Fraud
FOURTH CHARGE US/STATE CODE CITATION:18 U.S.C. § 1546
FOURTH CHARGE VERDICT/PLEA:Guilty Verdict
FOURTH CHARGE SENTENCE:
FIFTH CHARGE:Document Servitude
FIFTH CHARGE US/STATE CODE CITATION:18 U.S.C. § 1592
FIFTH CHARGE VERDICT/PLEA:Guilty Verdict
FIFTH CHARGE SENTENCE:
CORE TERMS:
SENTENCING OPINION CITATION:
LENGTH OF GREATEST SENTENCE:50 months
RESTITUTION REQUIRED:
FINE IMPOSED:$15,000 per defendant
FORFEITURE IMPOSED:
FIRST CLAIM:
FIRST CLAIM US/STATE CODE CITATION:
FIRST CLAIM RESULT:
DAMAGES AWARDED FOR FIRST CLAIM:
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SECOND CLAIM US/STATE CODE CITATION:
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DAMAGES AWARDED FOR SECOND CLAIM:
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THIRD CLAIM US/STATE CODE CITATION:
THIRD CLAIM RESULT:
DAMAGES AWARDED FOR THIRD CLAIM:
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FOURTH CLAIM US/STATE CODE CITATION:
FOURTH CLAIM RESULT:
DAMAGES AWARDED FOR FOURTH CLAIM:
FIFTH CLAIM:
FIFTH CLAIM US/STATE CODE CITATION:
FIFTH CLAIM RESULT:
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SIXTH CLAIM:
SIXTH CLAIM US/STATE CODE CITATION:
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DAMAGES AWARDED FOR SIXTH CLAIM:
TOTAL AWARD:
APPEAL:Yes
EXPLANATION OF APPEAL:Appealed Conviction
APPELLATE OPINION CITATION:563 F.3d 364 (8th Cir.)
HOLDING OF APPEALS COURT:Affirm
APPEAL STILL PENDING?:No
SUMMARY:Defendants, husband and wife John and Angelita Ferrell, owned and operated a Comfort Suites hotel in Oacoma, South Dakota. In 2005 and 2006, defendants brought workers from the Philippines to South Dakota using temporary H-2B visas. The Ferrells promised the victims employment at the hotel for 40 hours a week at $6.05 per hour. When the workers arrived, the Farrells confiscated their visas and passports. The Ferrells forced the victims to  work for up to 18 hours a day at the hotel and local fast food restaurants. The Farrells also compelled the workers to sign debt contracts for the costs of transportation to the United States and for purported visa fees. Because of their low wages - the Ferrells paid the workers roughly half of their promised wage - and charges incurred under the debt contact -  the victims handed over upwards of 90 percent of their earnings to the Ferrells. The defendants housed the 9 workers in a rented two-room house.  

The Ferrells used threats of deportation and legal sanction as a primary means of controlling the workers. Robert Ferrell specifically threatened to ship the workers back to the Philippines in a box if they refused to comply with the defendants' demands. Defendants also used these and other threats to dissuade the victims from reporting their conditions to law enforcement.

In 2006, two of the workers escaped and alerted a county attorney, who then referred them to the local police. 
Approval Status:Approved
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