The Long Beach woman featured in this LA Weekly story a month ago pleaded guilty today, along with her husband, to charges of forced labor for illegally harboring two Philippine women in her home and forcing them to work in her elder care businesses after tricking them into coming to the U.S. The women worked against their will for years at a time, and were threatened by Pelayo. Federal agents shut down the elder care homes in April 2008 after federal search warrants were served.
In a plea agreement filed today, Pelayo admitted to paying $12,000 to smuggle two women into the U.S. from the Philippines, forcing them to work for her elder care homes, confiscating their passports, and threatening to report them to the authorities if they tried to escape. Pelayo's husband pleaded guilty to concealing a third person for more than ten years.
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Pelayo had an elaborate scheme in which she would work with co-defendant Rodolfo Demafeliz (who pled guilty last year, served a prison sentence and was returned to the Philippines), a Taekwondo instructor in the Phillippines who secured the visas for Pelayo's victims by entering them into U.S. Taekwondo competitions and giving them brief trainings to give their visas legitimacy. Pelayo paid $6,000 to have each woman smuggled in and, once they were here, she took their passports and told them they owed her $12,000 in fees that they had to work off before she released them.