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Irvine couple who enslaved girl get prison, fine

October 24, 2006|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

An Irvine couple who pleaded guilty to enslaving a 10-year-old Egyptian girl were sentenced to federal prison Monday and ordered to pay her more than $76,000 in back wages.

Abdel Nasser Youssef Ibrahim was sentenced to 36 months in custody, and his former wife, Amal Ahmed Ewis-abd El Motelib, was sentenced to 22 months, by U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana.

After the hearing, immigration agents arrested the couple on suspicion of being in the United States on expired visitor visas.

Ibrahim, 46, and Motelib, 43, will remain in immigration detention until their sentencing next week and Nov. 13 respectively, when they will be transferred to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. They will be deported after serving their sentences.

Restitution often is an empty promise, especially when defendants are sentenced to prison. But not in this case, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert J. Keenan. He said Ibrahim and Motelib posted $80,000 with the court before sentencing, enough to cover the $76,137 they owe the girl.

"That's the other good thing about this [plea]; the money is there for her. We required them to make full restitution," said Keenan.

The money represents the amount that the girl should have received while working for two years without pay for the couple and their five children. The plight of the unidentified girl, who is 16 now, was discovered in 2002, when a tipster reported her to the Orange County Department of Child Support Services.

An investigation by Irvine police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents revealed that the couple brought her to the U.S. in 2000, when she was 10. In addition to making her work up to 16 hours daily, Ibrahim and Motelib also admitted slapping and yelling at her.

Prosecutors said the girl's poor parents in Egypt agreed to let her work for 10 years in exchange for about $30 a month.

After she was removed from Ibrahim and Motelib's home, the government granted her permanent residency at the request of the county, Keenan said.

The girl is living with foster parents, attending high school and playing soccer, Keenan said.

"She is doing really well and seems like a very intelligent young lady. She was telling me that she's got a big date and looking forward to an upcoming dance this Saturday," he said.

hgreza@latimes.com

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