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

08:15  11 september  2019
08:15  11 september  2019 Source:   cnn.com

Church held homeless people hostage, forced them to beg, feds say

Church held homeless people hostage, forced them to beg, feds say A dozen leaders of a California-based church lured homeless people into group homes and forced them to panhandle, according to an indictment.

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 .

Tackling the homeless /addiction issues head on is the morally correct action and for bonus points, it's cheaper to deal with the problem upfront than it is to Jesus said they turned his fathers house into a den of thieves. Two pastors of separate churches in my town are being investigated for embezzlement.

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.

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

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.

Man charged with vandalizing Mennonite Church in Cumberland County

Man charged with vandalizing Mennonite Church in Cumberland County A Carlisle man is accused of vandalizing a church after police say they caught him gluing posters to the church’s walls. Police were called to the Reform Mennonite Church on N Middlesex Road on Friday, September 6. There, they say they found Robert Bear, 90, using glue to post personal manifestos on the exterior church walls. Bear had previously been banned from the property and was not supposed to be there, let alone defacing the historic property. Bear faces charges of institutional vandalism, defiant trespass, desecration of venerated objects and disorderly conduct. ——— ©2019 WPMT-TV, Harrisburg Visit WPMT-TV, Harrisburg at www.fox43.

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

Church leaders arrested for holding homeless captive, forced labor : FedsA group of California church leaders were arrested in a case involving homeless people who were allegedly held against their will and coerced to surrender their welfare benefits to the church .Google Map Street View.

The ministry operates nondenominational churches and group homes in the United States and Mexico.

CNN reached out to Imperial Valley Ministries and officials declined to comment, saying they were on their way to court.

The defendants were arrested in El Centro and San Diego and in Brownsville, Texas. Arraignments began Tuesday.

'Appalling abuse of power'

"The indictment alleges an appalling abuse of power by church officials who preyed on vulnerable homeless people with promises of a warm bed and meals," Brewer said. "These victims were held captive, stripped of their humble financial means, their identification, their freedom and their dignity."

The indictment alleges church leaders kept victims inside group homes with deadbolt locks only they had keys to and confiscated IDs such as driver's licenses, immigration papers and passports to prevent victims from escaping.

Burned body found in Los Angeles encampment after fire attacks on homeless, report say

Burned body found in Los Angeles encampment after fire attacks on homeless, report say Authorities in Los Angeles on Thursday found a burned body stuffed in a shopping cart at a city homeless encampment, a report said. The find comes after several recent fire attacks on the homeless in the city, The Los Angeles Times reported. It was unclear if the person was homeless, but the report said it was recovered at a spot in Van Nuys that is frequented by transients. © FoxNews.com Left Coast News host Ethan Bearman and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo react on ‘Fox News @ Night.

Twelve leaders of a Southern California -based church have been arrested on charges of coercing dozens of mostly homeless people into forced labor At least five are Mexican nationals, he said . U . S . Attorney Robert Brewer called the case "the most significant labor trafficking prosecution" to

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Twelve leaders of a Southern California -based church have been arrested on charges of coercing dozens of mostly homeless people An indictment filed in U . S . District Court in San Diego and unsealed on Tuesday charged the church officials with conspiracy, forced labor

One victim was a 17-year-old girl who escaped by breaking out of a window, Brewer said. She went to the police, he said.

"Dozens of victims have alleged the same thing -- once they were inside the group homes, the IVM had become a venture designed to keep as many as people as possible for as long as possible," Assistant US District Attorney Chris Tenorio said at a press conference Tuesday.

Isolated and closely watched

Victims said they were isolated and closely watched, Tenorio said. They were threatened with punishment for violating house rules, and they weren't allowed to go anywhere unattended, he said.

They were told their children would be taken away from them if they left, Brewer said.

Victims were made to turn over all their belongings, Tenorio said, and the accused church leaders took victims' benefits, such as Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards that allowed the holder to buy food. They then gave them to people not eligible for the benefits, he said.

Victims were refused basic and necessary medical attention, said Scott Brunner, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Diego field office. That included a diabetic who was refused insulin and even the food needed to control blood sugar levels, said Brewer.

Identifying labor trafficking victims is particularly challenging, Brunner said, because the victims often are isolated and work behind the scenes doing legal work, on farms, in homes, in restaurants and factories.

I would like this case to send a message to the victims," said Brewer. "That message being: We want to help you. You have to report these types of crime to law enforcement, so that we can help you."

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