California church leaders charged with forced labor of homeless, US attorney says

Posted on Wednesday, 11th September 2019 @ 02:53 AM by Text Size A | A | A

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(CNN) A dozen leaders of a California-based ministry have been indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of forced labor of mostly homeless people, a US attorney said.

Imperial Valley Ministries leaders recruited people by promising food and shelter, and instead forced them to beg for money for nine hours a day, six days a week and to give up their welfare benefits “for the financial benefit of the church leaders,” prosecutors said in a news release Tuesday that announced the indictment had been unsealed.

The ministry leaders will face charges of conspiracy, forced labor, document servitude and benefits fraud, US Attorney Robert Brewer said. The ministry operates nondenominational churches and group homes in the United States and Mexico.

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