SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — A San Francisco Italian Consulate employee and his wife have been charged with turning a Brazilian woman into an indentured servant after luring her to the United States with promises of a better life.
Investigators said the couple falsely told the woman that U.S. law didn’t apply to them because they were diplomats.
Federal prosecutors charged 54-year-old Giuseppe Penzato and his 33-year-old wife, Kesia Penzato, with forced labor. The two were arrested Friday and released Monday on bond.
Giuseppe Penzato is an assistant at the consulate.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Kesia Penzato knew the woman, whose name was withheld, from when they were teenagers in Brazil.
Attorneys for the couple wrote in court papers that the dispute “is nothing more than a civil wage and hour case brought by a scheming young woman” to facilitate her goal of living in the U.S.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)