An Anne Arundel County woman faces up to six months in jail after pleading guilty to employing an illegal immigrant and admitting she exploited the victim for at least $150,000 worth of unpaid housework over eight years.
Shingaidzo Nhekairo, 50, of Arnold pleaded guilty to “unlawful employment of aliens” in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Tuesday, court records show.
She was indicted last year on charges of “alien harboring for financial gain” and “unlawful conduct with respect to immigration documents.” Prosecutors said Nhekairo harbored a Zimbabwe national and concealed the person’s immigration status for financial gain. The charges were reduced to a single count of “unlawful employment of aliens” about a week before Nhekairo pleaded guilty.
According to a plea agreement, Nhekairo’s relative helped the immigrant — named only “E.M.” in the agreement — obtain a six-month tourist visa in August 2006 under the guise that “E.M.” would be traveling for a two-week vacation in Florida with her employer’s family.
The person was flown from Zimbabwe to JFK Airport in New York City then to Dulles Airport in Washington D.C., the agreement reads, where Nhekairo picked them up and drove both of them to her home in Hanover.
“Thereafter, from August 2006 until September 2014, the Defendant employed E.M. as a household domestic assistant whose responsibilities include watching the Defendant’s children, preparing certain meals, and cleaning the household,” the agreement reads.
An attorney for Nhekairo did not immediately return calls for comment.
Nhekairo admitted she knew the person’s visa expired and was not eligible to live and work in the United States, the plea agreement reads.
In addition, Nhekairo did not pay the person adequate wages in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, “and therefore owes EM at least $150,000 in back wages and overtime,” the agreement reads.