Burlington County Couple Convicted of Forced Labor and Immigration Crimes

A local couple faces severe penalties for exploiting two victims to perform domestic work and childcare under coercive conditions.

In a significant case of human rights violations, a Burlington County couple, Bolaji Bolarinwa, 50, and Isiaka Bolarinwa, 67, have been convicted of forced labor and other federal offenses. U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke confirmed the convictions today, stemming from a coercive scheme where two victims were compelled to work in the couple's home under severe conditions.

These defendants engaged in an egregious bait-and-switch, luring the victims with false promises of a life and an education in the United States, and instead subjected them to grueling hours, physical abuse and psychological abuse," said U.S..Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.

Case Details: 

The trial, held over two weeks before U.S. District Judge Karen M. Williams in Camden federal court, resulted in Bolaji Bolarinwa being found guilty of two counts of forced labor, one count of alien harboring for financial gain, and two counts of document servitude. Isiaka Bolarinwa was convicted of two counts of forced labor and one count of alien harboring for financial gain. However, both defendants were acquitted of a second count of alien harboring for financial gain.

Abusive Conditions: 

From December 2015 to October 2016, the Bolarinwas, originally from Nigeria and now U.S. citizens, manipulated two victims into traveling to the U.S. under false pretenses. Upon their arrival, the victims were forced into domestic labor and childcare through threats of physical harm, isolation, constant surveillance, and psychological abuse. The defendants also unlawfully confiscated the victims’ passports to further restrict their freedom.

Victim Impact: 

The first victim was coerced into around-the-clock labor for nearly a year, facing threats against herself and her daughter. The second victim, arriving under a student visa, was subjected to both physical and psychological abuse. It wasn't until October 2016 that the second victim was able to seek help from a college professor, leading to an FBI investigation.

Imagine showing up in a foreign land, hoping for a better life, and ending up trapped with no place to go and no one to turn to for help,” FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy said. The victims in this investigation suffered in unimaginable ways at the hands of their captors, enduring years of physical and mental abuse."

Legal Consequences: 

The couple now faces up to 20 years in prison for each forced labor count, 10 years for the alien harboring counts, and additional penalties for the document servitude counts, including significant fines and mandatory restitution to the victims.

Investigation and Legal Proceedings: 

The FBI, led by Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, spearheaded the investigation, with support from the Moorestown Township Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Bender and Trial Attorney Elizabeth Hutson of the Justice Department’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.

Authorities urge anyone with information about human trafficking to contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Efforts continue to highlight and combat human trafficking, with resources and information available through the Justice Department and dedicated hotlines.

This case is a stark reminder of the ongoing fight against human trafficking and exploitation, underlining the importance of vigilance and community awareness in protecting vulnerable populations.

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