Jail not sought in Llenroc case
Prosecutors seek house arrest, probation for George
ALBANY The woman convicted of harboring an illegal immigrant at the iconic Llenroc mansion in Rexford may end up with no jail time, as prosecutors in the case are now officially recommending a combination of probation and house arrest.
Federal prosecutors filed their sentencing memorandum last week, ahead of Annie George’s scheduled July 9 appearance, recommending that George be sentenced to a total of eight months of home detention and 200 hours of community service.
They are also recommending two years of probation and a $20,000 fine.
The final sentence is up to U.S. District Court Judge Gary L. Sharpe.
If the prosecutors' recommendation of home detention is accepted by the judge, exactly where that home detention would be served is not clear.
Prosecutors are also seeking a ruling seizing the Llenroc mansion, a mansion that is both opulent and, according to trial testimony, deteriorating. Sharpe is considering arguments on that motion and is expected to issue a ruling on that ahead of the sentencing.
George was convicted of harboring an illegal immigrant at her Rexford estate. The jury, though, acquitted her on the more serious charge of harboring an illegal immigrant for financial gain.
The jury found that George knew or should have known that Indian citizen Valsamma Mathai, who had lived with the family for more than five years, was an illegal immigrant.
The acquittal on the more serious charge suggested that the jury rejected the prosecution’s contention that Mathai stayed with the family as a formal servant.
The defense contended that George didn’t know Mathai’s status and that she was only a guest and treated like family.
The case was marked by emotional testimony on both sides, with Mathai testifying that she agreed to work for the Georges in 2005 for $1,000 per month. What she ended up working was 17-hour days without any kind of day off, Mathai testified.
For more than five years of work, she only received about $24,000 in pay. It was that alleged disparity between work and pay that prosecutors argued was the financial gain George received.
In the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Belliss notes that sentencing guidelines would suggest a sentence of eight to 14 months of imprisonment. The circumstances of George’s case and the overall offense level allow for a sentence of probation.
Belliss requested the home confinement, arguing that George knew Mathai was in the United States illegally when the family first hired her in 2005.
Widow: Husband decided
George claimed her husband, Mathai Kolath George, hired Mathai and he controlled the family finances until his death in a plane crash in 2009.
Belliss argued that if George’s contention is accepted, after her husband’s death, George had the authority to cease harboring Mathai.
“Yet,” Belliss wrote, “the defendant continued to harbor [Mathai] because it was convenient, and likely cheaper, for the defendant to use [Mathai] as her domestic servant rather than lawfully hire and pay a live-in domestic servant.”
Belliss also recounted George’s conduct the day Mathai was taken from the home in May 2011 and her conduct afterward, saying George “took steps to make the investigators’ job more difficult.”
George, Belliss wrote, played a “cat-and-mouse game” with investigators over whether Mathai was even present in the home. Investigators already knew Mathai was there. Belliss also referenced recorded phone calls in which George tried to influence Mathai’s son to tell investigators an untrue story to deflect blame.
George defense attorney Mark Sacco is to submit his own memorandum. He could not be reached for comment Friday.
Regarding the mansion itself, prosecutors are arguing that it be seized, claiming that the mansion helped facilitate the harboring of Mathai.
The mansion is officially owned by Power Angels, a limited liability corporation consisting of George, her five young children and Siju Augustine, the brother of her deceased husband. George owns only 10 percent of the corporation, with the others holding equal shares of 15 percent.
But Belliss is arguing that the government has the right to take the entire property because the family and Mathai moved into the mansion more than a year before the limited liability corporation formally purchased the property.
Sacco opposes the seizure of the home on various grounds, including arguing that it would be excessive and unjust and that she is not the owner of the property, only a minority shareholder.