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Servitude Charges Filed Against Woman

October 28, 1998

Involuntary servitude charges were filed Tuesday against a Woodland Hills woman accused of holding four illegal immigrants from Thailand against their will.

Supawan Veerapol, 52, was indicted earlier this year on charges of harboring illegal immigrants, but the new indictment added the more serious charges of involuntary servitude.

Supawan, a Thai national who has real estate investments and has operated restaurants in the Los Angeles area for many years, was arrested in March.

She was accused of bringing illegal immigrants from Thailand to the United States to work long hours at her home and in her restaurants and barring them from contact with the outside world.

Two women who fled her home told authorities that Supawan confiscated their passports, censored their mail, prevented them from attending religious services and threatened them and their families with harm if they left.

Supawan, who is free on $500,000 bail, has denied the allegations. She says she befriended the women.

The new indictment charges her with four counts of involuntary servitude and four counts of harboring illegal immigrants. If convicted on all counts, she could be sentenced to 60 years in prison.

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