NJ woman jailed for enslaving Sri Lankan national as housekeeper

A New Jersey woman has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison for enslaving a Sri Lankan national — forcing her to work as a nanny and a housekeeper without pay, federal authorities said.

Alia Imad Faleh Al Hunaity, 44, will spend 70 months in prison after being convicted in May of forced labor, alien harboring for financial gain, and marriage fraud for forcing the unidentified victim to work as her domestic servant for nine years, Department of Justice officials announced Tuesday.

In 2009, Hunaity, also known as Alia Al Qaternah, brought the victim to the US on a temporary visa to perform domestic work. She then forced the woman to overstay her visa and stay in the country illegally for more than nine years while she cooked and cleaned Hunaity’s homes in Woodland Park and Secaucus, federal prosecutors said.

In 2018, Hunaity forced the woman into marrying her so she could obtain legal residence and continue to work without fear of her being deported, authorities said.

She also made the woman look after her three children without being paid, according to court documents and evidence presented during her six-day trial in Camden.

“She limited the victim’s interactions with the work outside of Hunaity’s homes,” federal prosecutors said in a statement. “During this time, Hunaity required the victim to sleep on a bed in a public space in Hunaity’s homes, including in the kitchen.”

Hunaity is a naturalized citizen from Jordan who worked in New York as a cancer research scientist, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The single mother of three was not in custody prior to her sentencing. She was ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons at a date to be determined and to pay the victim $1.2 million in restitution, the newspaper reports.

“I want to say sorry for everything,” she told a judge Tuesday.

Hunaity was also sentenced to three years of supervised release upon her release from prison, federal prosecutors said.

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