Indian American couple in Virginia charged with committing fraud, forced labor


An Indian American couple in Virginia has been charged with multiple offences, including confiscating a worker’s documents, forcing him to provide services for minimal pay and subjecting him to threats at their gas station and convenience store.

Returning a seven-count indictment on Wednesday, a federal jury in Richmond laid a total of six charges against Harmanpreet Singh, 30, and Kulbir Kaur, 42, of North Chesterfield.

The charges include, conspiracy to commit forced labor, forced labor, alien harboring for financial gain, document servitude, conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, and fraudulent transfers in completion of bankruptcy.

According to the court documents, between March 2018 and May 2021, Harmanpreet and Kulbir allegedly forced the victim to provide labour and services at their store.

The victim worked as a cashier, preparing food, cleaning and managing store records, the Department of Justice said in a release.

The indictment alleged that the couple used various coercive means, including confiscating the victim’s immigration documents and subjecting the victim to physical abuse, threats of force and other serious harm and, at times, degrading living conditions, to compel him to work long hours for minimal pay.

The indictment further alleges that the defendants harboured the victim after his visa expired for financial gain and committed bankruptcy-related fraud offences.

The charge of forced labor carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, up to five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and mandatory restitution.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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