ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) - A Virginia couple charged with human trafficking for illegally bringing a woman over from Morocco to be their domestic servant pleaded guilty on Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced.
Abdelkader Amal, a former Moroccan diplomat at the embassy in D.C., and his wife Hnia Amal, who operated a cleaning company, live in the Island Creek neighborhood of Alexandria. Authorities allege they brought the woman over from Morocco to be their housemaid, with the promise of paying her $400 a week. However, authorities say she was paid less than $9,000 over a period of three years.
According to the DOJ's announcement, the Amals brought the woman, identified only as "F.H.," to the U.S. under the false premise that she would be working for Amal's cleaning company. However, once she was here, she was not paid. Authorities say the couple made down payments on an apartment in Morocco for her, totaling roughly $8,500, but no other pay was given.
Authorities also allege that F.H. was made to work for Hnia Amal's cleaning company, cleaning for other clients, in addition to her duties in the Amal household. They say, the cleaning company was paid for F.H.'s work, but F.H. saw no cut of that money.
According to Abdelkader's plea agreement in the case, he used to be employed as a military official in the Moroccan embassy in D.C. However, once he stopped working there in 2003, he was no longer eligible to sponsor individuals to come to the U.S.
The Amals are due to be sentenced on July 11. According to the DOJ, they face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
As part of the plea agreement, the Amals have agreed to pay more than $50,000 in restitution to F.H.