PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Jury deliberations are set to begin in the Federal trial of two Ukranian brothers charged with human trafficking.
In his closing arguments, federal prosecutor Daniel Velez told the jury that Omelyan and Stepan Botsvynyuk ran a criminal enterprise that involved the smuggling of illegal immigrants from Ukraine into the US and forcing them to work seven days a week, cleaning stores and offices for little pay.
Velez said the brother’s racket was a well-oiled machine fueled by a climate of fear they created through threats, rape and violence.
At one point Velez choked up as he recounted one witness claim that Omelyan Botsvynyuk threatened to force her 13-year-old daughter into prostitution if she didn’t cooperate.
Defense attorneys hammered away at the veracity of the prosecution’s witnesses, repeatedly mentioning one in particular who admitted lying to a grand jury.
They also argued that the witnesses were motivated by their desperation for a T-Visa and remain in this country.
If convicted on all counts, the defendants face six to 40 years in prison and fines of $250,000 to $750,000.
Reported by Paul Kurtz, KYW Newsradio