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Couple sentenced in forced labor case

January 29, 2008|Daniela Perdomo | Times Staff Writer

A former Hollywood studio attorney was sentenced Monday to 200 hours of community service and his wife to three years in prison for holding their live-in housemaid in forced labor in the couple's Culver City home.

James Jackson, former vice president of legal affairs at Sony Pictures, was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine during his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. He pleaded guilty earlier to harboring Nena Ruiz, a domestic worker whose visa had expired.

His wife, Elizabeth Jackson, was sentenced at the same hearing. She earlier pleaded guilty to holding a domestic worker in forced labor.

She was accused of bringing Ruiz from the Philippines to the United States in 2001, confiscating her passport and forcing her to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, authorities said. Ruiz, who worked in the Jacksons' home from 2001 to 2002 and was threatened with deportation if she left without permission, was paid no more than $400 a month.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, January 31, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 75 words Type of Material: Correction
Forced labor case: An article in Tuesday's California section reported that James Jackson, the former vice president of legal affairs at Sony Pictures, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for holding a live-in housemaid in forced labor at his Culver City home. He was sentenced for harboring a Filipina immigrant whose visa had expired. Jackson's wife, Elizabeth, was sentenced to three years in prison for holding the housemaid, Nena Ruiz, in forced labor.

"These defendants used their power and affluence to coerce a vulnerable woman into their personal service for several months," said Grace Chung Becker, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil rights division.

Elizabeth Jackson's attorney was unavailable for comment. All forced-labor charges against her husband were dropped by federal prosecutors, said Richard Steingard, James Jackson's attorney.

"I am grateful that all charges against Mr. Jackson were dismissed," Steingard said. "I am terribly sorry that his wife received a prison sentence, as neither I nor Mr. Jackson believe that the imposition of that sentence is necessary."

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daniela.perdomo@latimes.com

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