Sweet Nothings/I Do I Do bridal salon in Flagstaff.
FLAGSTAFF, AZ (CBS5) -
Four family members indicted in July 2011 for turning immigrant Vietnamese nationals into what investigators called modern-day slaves at their Flagstaff wedding shop face 15 additional criminal counts.
In a superceding indictment handed up Wednesday, Flagstaff residents Huong Thi "Kelly" McReynolds, 58; Joseph Minh McReynolds, 36; Vincent Minh McReynolds, 32; and James Hartful McReynolds, 60, face three additional counts of forced labor and 12 additional counts of promotional money laundering. [Click here to read the full indictment (PDF)]
The McReynolds family brought the victims into the U.S. by offering them a better life, including promises of happy marriages to U.S. citizens and educational opportunities, according to prosecutors.
Shortly after the victims arrived, they discovered that the McReynolds family would not fulfill their promises and the victims faced compelled servitude in the McReynolds' home and their business - Sweet Nothings/I Do I Do bridal salon in Flagstaff, federal officials said.
"They weren't just exploited for their labor, they were robbed of their basic human dignity," said U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke.
Huong McReynolds and her two sons, Joseph and Vincent, compelled the victims to work long hours with little or no pay, the indictment alleges. Between September 2001 and December 2008, the Vietnamese workers cycled through the bridal shop, with their "employment" ending either by their escaping or being "evicted," according to prosecutors.
Members of the McReynolds family, including Huong, Joseph, and James, each married Vietnamese victims, investigators said. The victims believed they would be entering legitimate marriages with these McReynolds family members.
Huong McReynolds shepherded victims through the visa process, that included coaching them prior to their interviews at the consulate, the indictment alleges. Once the victims were in the U.S., Huong McReynolds confiscated their passports and identification, and informed them that they would not only be working at her home, but also long hours in their bridal shop, prosecutors said.
Despite their marriages to the victims, Huong McReynolds and James McReynolds, who divorced in 1996, continued to live together as husband and wife, investigators said. Both before and after Joseph McReynolds' marriage to one of the Vietnamese victims, he was living with a U.S. citizen, with whom he fathered children both before and during his fraudulent marriage, the indictment alleges.
The investigation, called Operation Broken Promises, was conducted by ICE HSI, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Marshal's Service.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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