An Upper Marlboro Couple pled guilty to charges that they harbored a Filipino woman against her will for more than a decade. According to the plea agreement, Alfred Edwards, 74, and his wife, Gloria Edwards, 60, arranged for the woman to come work for them in 1998. Gloria Edwards paid $5,000 to cover the costs of the woman, known as T.E. in court documents, to enter the U.S. A portion of that money went to cover a false visa for T.E.
According to the U.S. District Attorney’s office, the couple convinced T.E. to come to the States under false pretenses knowing that the woman was uneducated, illiterate, impoverished, and in desperate need of money.
The scheme would get worse, according to federal officials. T.E.’s passport was immediately confiscated by the couple and kept in their possession for the duration of her stay.
T.E.’s family lived in an apartment in the Philippines owned by Gloria Edwards and because of that; the couple forced her to clean the houses of neighbors and relatives to pay the rent for that apartment. This was done in conjunction T.E.’s duties at the Edwards’ home cooking, cleaning, ironing, gardening, and providing nightly massages to Gloria Edwards’ mother. This was a seven-day per week job at 13 hours per day for $50 per month.
The couple then forced T.E. to marry Alfred Edwards’ brother, who suffered from dementia, diabetes and other serious medical conditions that made him dependent on others. Once T.E. received her permanent resident green card from the marriage, the couple confiscated that too and warned her that if she ran away she would be arrested for abandonment.
After Alfred Edwards’ brother died, Alfred began making sexual advances to T.E., which she rejected. In the meantime, she was being physically abused by Gloria Edwards. The couple forced T.E. to sign a document stating she would have to pay them $20,000 if she ran away. She ran anyway in November 2002, but Alfred Edwards found her and brought her back to the house where he threatened to shoot her if she tried to run away again.
Finally in September 2009, T.E. fled for good. However, “On or about December 22, 2009, approximately three months after T.E. left the defendants’ residence, defendant Gloria Edwards spoke to T.E. by telephone and told T.E. multiple times that she was a snake, a cobra, a beast, an idiot, a liar, shameless and a son of an expletive; accused her of stealing Alfred Edwards’ clothes when she left; demanded that T.E. pay her $20,000 for a replacement or she would be in trouble; and stated that if T.E. did not pay, T.E. was ‘done’,” according to the indictment.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 20-21. The Edwardses face a maximum sentence of five years in prison with three years of probation and a $250,000 fine, as well as $6,716.20 for misappropriating funds from the estate of a relative.