|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a man and a woman from Vietnam who entered the United States on student visas were indicted today for allegedly falsely reporting to authorities that relatives in New Jersey had engaged in human trafficking by forcing them to act as domestic servants and work in nail salons in Mercer County without pay.
The man, Long Ngoc Nguyen, 23, and the woman, Ngoc Hong Doan, 23, first cousins who are now living in Minnesota, were charged in separate state grand jury indictments with fourth-degree false incrimination. Over a period of 2 ½ years, they allegedly persisted in telling federal and state authorities that a Pennington, N.J., couple who gave them a home when they first came to the U.S. had engaged in human trafficking by forcing them into unpaid labor. Each defendant faces two counts of false incrimination, one count for the husband they accused and one for the wife.
The defendants claimed that their families arranged for them to come to the U.S. on student visas in 2007 so they could attend a community college in Seattle. They claimed that they were supposed to stay with the Pennington couple for only one month before starting college, but were never allowed to enroll. They alleged that the couple instead took away their passports and other documents and forced them to work in their home and in nail salons that they operated in Mercer County, all without compensation. After about 17 months, the defendants complained to one of their parents in Vietnam, and relatives relocated them to Minnesota. The relatives also contacted a Vietnamese assistance agency in Minnesota, which alerted federal authorities. The defendants allegedly told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement their false story in an effort to obtain special visas offered to victims of human trafficking. ICE referred the case to the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.
The defendants allegedly persisted in their false accusations until May 17, 2012, when they were scheduled to testify before a state grand jury against the Pennington couple. At that time, they allegedly admitted that their allegations were false. It is alleged that, in reality, the defendants came to the U.S. on student visas without intending to go to school. They allegedly intended to live for a year with the couple in Pennington and work in the couple’s nail salons while they attempted to establish legal residency in the U.S. The defendants allegedly were paid for their work, but became frustrated when the New Jersey relatives did not help them to acquire legal resident status.
Deputy Attorney General Asha Vaghela presented the case to the state grand jury. It was investigated by Detective Eric Barnes, Lt. Stephanie Stenzel and Deputy Attorney General Vaghela. Fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in state prison and a $10,000 fine. The indictments are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Arrest warrants have been issued for the defendants, and ICE has been notified.