Feds: Muttontown couple enslaved housekeepers

Two Indonesian women were kept as slaves in an upscale Nassau County home for the past five years, federal investigators said Tuesday. Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 35, and husband Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani,

News 12 Staff

May 15, 2007, 10:00 PM

Updated 6,275 days ago

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Two Indonesian women were kept as slaves in an upscale Nassau County home for the past five years, federal investigators said Tuesday.
Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 35, and husband Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51, of Muttontown, allegedly hired the two women as housekeepers in 2002, but have since held them against their will. The Sabhnanis were discovered Sunday morning when one of the women escaped and fled to a Dunkin' Donuts on Jericho Turnpike in Syosset, prosecutors said.
Forced to work a 21-hour day and sleep no more than three hours at a time, prosecutors said the women were repeatedly and severely beaten with rolling pins and other objects. When mistakes were made, the women had to do things like walk up and down the stairs and eat 25 chili peppers at a time, they said.
Neighbors said they knew the Sabhnanis had housekeepers, but never saw them. Prosecutors, who say the couple should not be granted bail, claim the Sabhnanis hid them whenever company came over.
The Sabhnanis are U.S. citizens, but are originally from India. Because of their extensive oversees contacts and available funds, prosecutors said the Sabhnanis are a flight risk. The couple's attorney denied that claim.


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