Filipino couple guilty of alien smuggling; husband gets probation, wife may get 25 years imprisonment

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (June 25) – The husband of a confessed illegal recruiter in the Los Angeles suburb of Long Beach, California was sentenced to a three years’ probation last June 22 after pleading guilty to concealing and harboring an illegal alien, who lived in their house.

Darwin A. Padolina, 56, was also ordered by United States District Court Judge Gary Allen Feess of Central California to pay $100 special assessment fees and participation for a “period of six months in a home detention program, which may include electronic monitoring, GPS, or voice recognition and shall observe all rules of such program.”

His wife, Evelyn Pelayo, 53, co-defendant in the case of forced labor offenses for bringing illegal aliens into the United States and forcing two of them to work at her businesses, is slated for sentencing on July 27, 2009. She is facing 25 years in prison.

Mr. Padolina, a native of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija in the Philippines, was also ordered to “maintain a residential telephone line without devices and/or services that may interrupt operation of the monitoring equipment.”

He was also ordered to pay cost of home confinement “not to exceed the sum $12 for each day of participation.”

A legal resident alien, Mr. Padolina, an accounting clerk, was ordered to “comply with the immigration rules and regulations of the United States, and if deported from this country, either voluntarily or involuntarily, not re-enter the U.S. illegally.”

Assisted by private defense lawyer Philip P. DeLuca, Mr. Padolina was also ordered not to “engage, as a whole or partial owner, employee or otherwise, any business involving elder care” and employment in any local, state or federal agency without or prior approval of the Probation Officer prior to engagement in such employment.

Waiving his right to appeal, Padolina was also ordered to “cooperate in the collection of a DNA sample from the defendant.”

Aside from Evelyn Pelayo, Padolina’s other co-accused were Rodolfo Demafeliz and Rolleta Riazon, both of whom were involved in smuggling illegal aliens into the United States under the guise of participation in martial arts competition.

Demafeliz and Riazon had both pleaded guilty to their offenses and were sentenced to time served and returned to the Philippines, their country of origin.

Padolina pleaded guilty to harboring an illegal alien for private financial gain. The illegal alien was identified as Marites Padolina, his first cousin, who provided services as a nanny and caretaker for his four children while the family resided in the Philippines and resumed doing so in 1998, when she came to the United States through and including 2008.

Padolina has since realized his mistake, which he described as “reckless and selfish” and turning a  “blind eye” and having “no regards for what was happening around me.” He originally faced a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Pelayo was the owner of two residences in Long Beach where she operated an elderly care and boarding facilities called Vernon Way Care Home and Walton Care Home. Both elder care homes, advertised as assisted living facilities—and located at 5561 E Vernon Street and 5651 E Walton Street—were closed in April 2008 on the strength of a federal search warrants.
According to court records, Pelayo admitted that she paid a co-defendant $12,000 to smuggle two illegal aliens into the U.S. from the Philippines and then forced the two to work at her elder care homes after confiscating their passports and threatening to turn them over to authorities if they attempted to escape.

“The defendants in this case exploited the dreams of foreign nationals who sought a better life in the United States,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “Instead of realizing the American Dream, the victims in this case were subjected to inhumane treatment that profited only the defendants. For forcing victims to work up to 24 hours a day, while keeping up to half of their meager salaries.”

Pelayo recruited potential workers in the Philippines, promising them jobs in her elder care facilities. Once the victims agreed, Pelayo contacted Demafeliz, a Taekwondo martial arts instructor, who would enter the aliens in Taekwondo tournaments in the U.S. as a ruse to bring them into the country. Demafeliz obtained visas for the victims and provided them with limited martial arts training to make the visas appear legitimate.

Pelayo paid Demafeliz $6,000 for each alien smuggled into the United States. Pelayo would tell her victims she paid Demafeliz $12,000 and they had to work in her elder care facilities until they repaid the balance.

Some victims were also told that they would have to work for her for 10 years after they paid her their smuggling debts. She discouraged victims from speaking with neighbors, patients, family members of patients and law enforcement officials; and threatened to contact police and immigration officials if they tried to escape.

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