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Minn. woman sentenced in federal court for enslaving, abusing housekeeper

Lili Huang (Photo courtesy Washington County sheriff's office)

WOODBURY, Minn.—A Woodbury woman who enslaved and violently abused her housekeeper was sentenced Thursday, Aug. 24, to be deported after she spends a year in prison.

Lili Huang, 36, received a nearly identical sentence earlier this month from a Washington County judge after she pleaded guilty to charges of assault and withholding documents in furtherance of forced labor. The yearlong prison sentences will be served concurrently.

As part of the federal sentence she received from U.S. District Judge David S. Doty in Minneapolis on Thursday, Huang was also ordered to forfeit her home and pay more than $123,000 in restitution.

"With today's sentencing, Lili Huang must accept the consequences of committing such an egregious crime — not only financial repayment, but also the loss of liberty and property," Acting U.S. Attorney Gregory Brooker said in a news release. "I am grateful for the dedicated work of the (federal Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team) and our local law enforcement partners for their collaborative efforts in bringing this case to a successful resolution."

Huang's maid, a 58-year-old Chinese national, was found wandering around Woodbury in the early morning hours of July 14, 2016, with bruises on her face and several broken bones. She told police she had fled Huang's home after Huang threatened her with a kitchen knife.

The woman had worked for Huang in China, where she was well treated, according to court documents. But the abuse began after they immigrated to Minnesota, where Huang forced the woman to work 18-hour days, cooking, cleaning and providing child care. The maid told police Huang would beat and starve her and that Huang had at one point ripped out handfuls of the woman's hair.

To escape the abuse, the maid asked Huang to buy her an airline ticket back to China in April 2016. Instead, Huang hid the maid's passport and told her she wouldn't be allowed to leave. When the maid finally fled Huang's home in July 2016, she was found walking in the direction of the airport.

During her sentencing hearing in Washington County District Court earlier this month, Huang offered an apology through an interpreter: "I feel deep remorse for what I've done and I apologize."

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service

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