Filipino doctors get two additional years jail sentence

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (June 16) – Had Jefferson N. Calimlim Sr. and his wife, Elnora M. Calimlim, not appealed their four-year sentence last 2006, they would have been due for release in September next year.

On June 9, the Filipino doctors learned that they would have to languish longer by two more years in separate federal prisons.

According to the Website of the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., the two medical doctors from Milwaukee, Wisconsin suburb of Brookfield were each sentenced by  Judge Rudolph T. Randa of the U.S. District Court of Eastern Wisconsin in Milwaukee to 72 months in prison for forcing a woman to work as their domestic servant and illegally harboring her for 19 years in their Brookfield residence.

The Calimlims were initially sentenced on Nov. 16, 2006 to four-year prison terms each by Judge Randa but they appealed saying, the forced labor statute is vague and overbroad, that the jury instructions on the forced labor counts failed to exclude the possibility of a conviction for innocent actions, and that there was insufficient evidence of financial gain on the harboring counts.

But the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit based in Chicago, Illinois was not convinced and affirmed on Aug. 15, 2008 their convictions and set aside their four-year sentence. The appeals court ordered a re-sentencing in keeping with the “Sentencing Guideline range” which would increase their jail term and remanded the case back to Judge Randa.

According to evidence presented at trial, Jefferson Calimlim Sr. and his wife recruited and brought the domestic servant, Irma Martinez, from the Philippines to the U.S. in 1985 when she was 19 years old.

In September 2004, federal law enforcement officers responding to a tip removed Martinez, then age 38, from the Calimlim’s residence through the execution of a federal search warrant. The victim testified that for 19 years she was hidden in the Calimlim’s home, forbidden from going outside and told that she would be arrested, imprisoned and deported if she was discovered.

“Our Constitution promises freedom to all,” said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The defendants denied Ms. Martinez the basic right to her freedom. “
“Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery and is simply not acceptable. No person should ever be forced to live in fear, virtual isolation and servitude,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle L. Jacobs for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Martinez accompanied Dr. Jovito Mendoza, the father of defendant Elnora Calimlim, to the United States to become a domestic helper in the Calimlim residence in Brookfield.

Martinez was told by the Calimlims that if she did not do everything they asked, they would not send money back to her family (in the Philippines), the Calimlims also knew that not sending money back home was, for Martinez, a “serious harm.”

In addition, the “Calimlims also warned Martinez about her precarious position under the immigration laws, conveniently omitting anything about their (Calimlims) own vulnerability.”

When the Calimlims “kept her passport, never admitted that they too were violating the law, and never offered to try to regularize her presence in the United States” that would compel her to remain, the Calimlims intentionally manipulated the situation, according to court records.

“Their vague warnings that someone might report Martinez and their false statements that they were the only ones who lawfully could employ her could reasonably be viewed as a scheme to make her believe that she or her family would be harmed if she tried to leave. That is all the jury needed to convict.”

Dr. Jefferson Calimlim, 64, is spending prison time at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, Ohio while Dr. Elnora Calimlim is doing time at Hazelton women’s prison in West Virginia that has a mix of low and high-security inmates.

According to Journal Sentinel, their defense attorney Dean Strang wrote Judge Randa a letter where Mrs. Calimlim was admonished by prison officials not to practice medicine in prison. She witnessed violent fights and injuries and once saved an inmate’s life. The inmate passed out on the floor next to the toilet and stopped breathing. Mrs. Calimlim administered CPR and restored both respiration and a pulse.

Mrs. Calimlim cannot be released into a halfway house or camp because she is not a U.S. citizen — she’s a legal permanent resident. She must serve her full prison terms behind bars, Strang said.

The couple has paid Martinez nearly $700,000 of the $916,635 in restitution prosecutors said they owed for the two decades she worked as a maid, cook and nanny.

The couple and their adult children are facing a federal lawsuit from Martinez, and prosecutors sought to forfeit the Calimlim home in Brookfield. The couple also is likely to be deported after prison.

Randa imposed a six-year term and directed the couple to continue serving restitution of not less than $200 per month. He also recommended to the Federal Bureau of Prisons that the couple be allowed to serve in a facility “as close as possible” to their Brookfield home.

Email message by this reporter to Strang for comment was not answered.

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