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Court Won’t Hear Appeal from Muttontown Slave Couple

In this May 15, 2007 file photo, Varsha Mahender Sabhnani of Muttontown, N.Y., is led out of Nassau County police headquarters in Mineola.(AP Photo/Howard Schnapp, File)

The Supreme Court has refused to hear appeals to overturn the convictions of the wealthy Muttontown couple convicted in 2007 of enslaving two Indonesian housekeepers.

The high court on Tuesday refused to hear arguments from Mahender and Varsha Sabhnani that sought to overturn their forced-labor convictions. Varsha Sabhnani is serving an 11-year prison sentence and her husband is serving a three-year sentence.


The couple—who together owned an international perfume company—was convicted of enslaving two domestic servants the couple brought from Indonesia by keeping their travel documents and having them perform forced labor on their behalf. The high-profile case cast light on the prevalence of human trafficking in the New York area.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rejected arguments last March by attorneys for the couple who sought to overturn their convictions. It also ordered restitution requiring each of them to pay $936,546 to their victims.

Prosecutors said Varsha Sabhnani was primarily responsible for inflicting years of abuse on the poorly educated servants. They said her husband let the abuse take place and benefited from the work the women performed in their $2 million home until one of the victims escaped and found help at a nearby Syosset donut shop.

Varsha says pre-trial publicity prevented her from getting a fair trial, while her husband argues that he shouldn’t have been convicted for aiding and abetting because he didn’t stop his wife.

The cases are Mahender Sabhnani v United States, 10-475 and Varsha Sabhnani v United States, 10-476.

-With Associated Press.

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