A Woodbury woman accused of subjecting a Chinese woman she hired as a nanny to slave-like conditions plead guilty in federal court May 31 to furthering forced labor.
Lili Huang admitted to withholding the 58-year-old woman's passport, along with a litany of abusive tactics including beatings, starving the woman and threatening her with a knife.
Woodbury police arrested Huang last year after a woman who was found wandering and crying told officers Huang thwarted her efforts to escape the abuse by traveling home to China.
The woman told police that she fled the home after Huang threatened her with a knife for spilling food on the kitchen counter.
Huang confirmed the story in court.
She admitted to taking the woman's passport after the woman asked Huang to buy her a return ticket home.
According to Huang's plea agreement, she paid the woman's travel and helped her obtain a tourist visa so she could work as Huang's nanny in the United States.
The woman told police Huang had employed her in China and treated her well. When she arrived in the United States, however, she faced routine physical and emotional abuse.
Huang admitted to making the woman work excessive hours— sometimes as many as 18 hours per day, according to the Washington County District Court criminal complaint.
Huang admitted that she repeatedly grabbed the woman by the hair. Police found clumps of hair hidden under a mattress in Huang's home, according to a criminal complaint.
Huang also admitted to fracturing the woman's sternum and ribs in the course of the abuse.
The plea agreement also pointed to the woman's significant weight loss during her employment because Huang would allow her to eat very little.
Huang agreed to pay the victim at least $60,000 restitution and $5,000 to the Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund.
The terms of Huang's plea agreement will require her deportation after her sentence is complete.
Huang still faces pending felony charges in Washington County, where she is scheduled to appear in court July 24.
A federal judge could opt for Huang to serve consecutive prison sentences issued by federal and Washington County courts.