An immigrant from Laos is testifying in court in Omaha, Nebraska, accusing a couple of attempting to charge him for his immigration documents, taking money from him, and holding him as an indentured servant, The Columbia Daily Tribune reports.
Ae Xaypanya, who now works as a tailor at Men’s Warehouse, claims that Edward and Amphayvanh Alstatt of Omaha bound him in servitude in exchange for debts he owed. Until he paid back those debts, he said, he was forced to work for the couple.
In court, the Alstatts face charges of violating immigration laws such as conspiracy to commit peonage, human trafficking and document servitude. The three charges each come with a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
During his time with the Alstatts, Xaypanya reported that they violated several immigration laws, took his green card, passport and Social Security card and demanded $25,000 for them, set up a joint bank account with him and withdrew his wages from the account.
According to Reuters, Xaypanya is not the only person affected by the actions of the Alstatts. The couple allegedly recruited many Laotian nationals and assisted them in obtaining legal residency through a Diversity Visa Lottery.