SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The owners of six Bay Area adult and child day care facilities were charged with 59 counts Friday including human trafficking, wage theft, weapons and rape allegations uncovered during a year-long state investigation.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the investigation was launched after tips from employees of the Rainbow Bright company that operated residential care facilities.
The company ran six care centers in the Bay Area, four for adults and two for children, in unassuming houses in South San Francisco, Daly City and Pacifica.
“This could be happening in your backyard. In your neighborhood,” said Becerra.
Joshua, 42; Noel, 40; Gerlen, 38; and Carlina Gamos, 67, allegedly targeted members of the Filipino community, many of whom were new to the United States, for labor exploitation.
“It was the workers who helped bring this case to light,” Becerra said. “It is the workers who are the greatest victims of Rainbow Bright and its operations. Most of the workers are Filipino immigrants.”
Among the criminal charges against the four members of the Gamos family are three counts of rape, 26 counts of grand theft and eight counts of human trafficking.
“The charges against the Gamos family members are despicable. We must not turn a blind eye to abusive labor practices. Report it, and we will investigate and prosecute,” said Becerra in a press release announcing the charges.
While serving the arrest warrants, state agents also seized 14 illegal assault weapons — three of were “ghost gun” rifles without serial numbers. A weapons investigation remains in process.
The attorney general estimated the number of workers exploited by the company over the past decade “could be in the hundreds.”
The workers were crime victims held under the threat of being reported to federal immigration officials.
“They were forced to work up to 24 hours a day,” said Beccera. “They slept on the floors and in garages. They were locked outside, sometimes in the rain, when the owners were not home.”
The family also took away the passports of those working for them. Investigators did say that there was no evidence that the children or adults under care at Rainbow Bright centers were abused in any way.
According to Becerra, over a 10-year period, they threatened at least 100 Filipino immigrants with deportation, forcing them to care for their wards, while they collected the money.
Investigators estimated the total wage theft amount at about $8.5 million.
A stunned mother who KPIX 5 spoke with Friday morning was planning to drop off her three daughters at the Rainbow Bright Childcare only to learn the owners have been arrested.
When asked what she felt after hearing the news, daycare customer Sara Rodriguez said, “Shock, because I always see them as good persons.”
Joshua Gamos is charged with raping a female worker. Next door neighbor Bob Aldeguer said it is hard to believe the charges.
“Joshua, I like the guy. He’s a nice guy. No problem at all. He’s a very nice guy,” said Aldeguer.
Linda Gatchalian, another neighbor, said she had no idea about the alleged guns and exploitation.
“Awful. Unbelievable that they could do that there in that quiet house,” said Linda Gatchalian.
There could be more criminal charges to come. The state is also seeking financial restitution for both the victims and the government.