Editor’s Note: Mordechai Orian, owner of Global Horizons Manpower Co., who is charged federally with human trafficking Thai workers to Hawaii and other states, issued a statement today after the U.S. Department of Justice dismissed similar charges against Mike and Alec Sou, two brothers who operate Aloun Farms on Oahu’s west side. Mr. Orian briefly was contracted by the Sous to bring workers to Hawaii in 2003. However, he and the Sou brothers had a legal dispute. Mr. Orian, who has been deemed by the FBI as running ‘the largest human trafficking case in history’ has maintained his innocence. He attended the Sou’s trial over the last two weeks in federal court. He issued this statement today about the federal government’s decision to dismiss charges against the Sou brothers. There is speculation in the legal community that the federal government’s botching of the Sou case may in fact impact Mr. Orian’s case as the same lead prosecutor had been heading up both cases until she fell ill during the trial. Currently, Mr. Orian is set to go to trial in February 2012.
BY MORDECHAI ORIAN – Concerning today’s dismissal of all charges against Alec and Mike Sou:
“I have long maintained my innocence of the charges brought by the United States Department of Justice against me and some of my employees for what has been billed as ‘the largest human trafficking case in history.’
Today, the overzealousness and hypocrisy of the government in bringing those charges was laid bare – and resulted in the dismissal this morning of the case against the Sou Brothers. Though I am not privy to the exact reason why the case was dismissed, I am, because of my attendance at the trial, aware of the fact that the lead prosecutor, Susan French, had to leave the trial – having gotten “sick” – albeit under a cloud of ethical suspicion because she admitted that she misstated the law concerning the legality of the payment and receipt of recruiting fees to the grand jury which issued the indictment not only against the Sou Brothers, but against me as well. Where there is smoke, there is fire, and it is heartening to know that there are people other than AUSA Susan French within the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. now looking at these cases with the jaundiced eye they have rightfully deserved from the beginning.
“This case has been nothing short of a personal vendetta by AUSA Susan French against me and my employees, and now that vendetta appears to be coming to a deservedly ignominious end, thanks to the opportunity that Alec and Mike Sou had to defend themselves in front of an impartial judge and jury with good lawyers, real facts and real law, in open court. For once in the life of these cases, someone – here, the Sou Brothers – got an opportunity to actually question the, facts, law, tactics and conduct of Ms. French and the rest of the people within the Department of Justice who decided to bring these charges in the first place.”
“Now we know: the allegations could not have resulted in the indictments without Ms. French having decided to mislead the grand jury on at least one of the very big legal issues that formed the foundation for their “economic coercion” case: that paying and receiving recruiting fees at the time the alleged illegal activity took place was not – not – illegal, contrary to what she told the grand jury and which she admitted in open Court before Judge Mollway. It was not illegal at the time (before 2008) to take recruiting fees in the United States for H2-A workers and it was not (and still is not) illegal in Thailand to pay and collect recruiting fees. Indeed, labor law in Thailand specifically says that if a worker fails to complete their contract and returns home to Thailand, they must be able to recoup a proportional amount of the fees actually paid. The workers would have been out exactly nothing.”
“This is the same government – the United States Department of Labor in particular – which admitted in open court that there were no housing violations committed by my company, Global Horizons at Maui Pineapple Company. None. This is the same government which knows that there were no payments whatsoever from any recruiters to my company or me. None. This is the same government which knows that our workers were free to come and go as they pleased – and many did – absconding from the job sites and never being heard from again, albeit except for those who agreed to testify against me in exchange for “T” (victim of trafficking) visas that allow them to stay in the US legally and which moreover allow them to bring their entire families to the United States based on complaints that were never made at the time of the allegations in the indictment against me. This is the same government which knows that our workers were members of the United Farmworkers union, whose telephone number every worker had if there were ever any problems. To summarize: “problems” with our workers, and the indictments, curiously arose at the exact time the government offered “T” visas in exchange for testimony, not in 2003-4, when the illegal actions I am alleged to have engaged in took place according to the indictment.
“Yet the US government, ignoring not only the law of the United States, also ignored the law in Thailand which would have obviated the perceived necessity to charge me with being the “mastermind” behind “the largest human trafficking case in history”. Like “The Wizard of Oz”, the curtain has been thrown open on the prosecution by the United States government, revealing a lot of noise, signifying exactly nothing. In a world which loves sound bites and easy answers, this morning’s events should be a lesson to all of us: we have a legal system which requires the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We have a system of laws, not men (or women, in this case) who are answerable to higher authorities, and it is my sincere hope to see that complete justice is done to those who have been responsible for the persecution of not only the Sou Brothers but of me as well.
“I cannot help but at this moment think about what I and my own family have been through thus far because of the actions of the United States Department of Justice, and Susan French in particular. Before I turned myself in last September on many of the same charges brought against the Sou Brothers, 14 FBI agents, though knowing I was not home, conducted a raid on my home – breaking my front door in and handcuffing my wife in front of my three children, ages 6, 11 and 13, terrorizing them, scarring them for life. And there was no reason for it, other than the need for Susan French’s Human Trafficking division to make headlines and noise. The government has taken and kept nearly all of my company’s files and computers under the authority of a search warrant which by its terms required it to return all of the items seized no later than February 14, 2011 and has repeatedly called for me to be restricted to my 300 s.f. hotel room in Honolulu, trying its level best to keep me locked up, away from my family, my business affairs and my lawyers, all in an obviously transparent attempt to deprive me of the means to defend myself, and to deprive me of my right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“The government has done everything in its power to crush my will to resist the false charges, and they have not and will not ever succeed. What happened today is proof that the only way it could obtain convictions was through intimidation and bullying. And now, with the dismissal “in the interests of justice” of the Sou Brothers’ case, the government has given me a measure of vindication since, as I have noted previously, many of the same charges leveled against the Sou Brother which were also leveled at me. From my perspective, if the government was forced to drop all charges against the Sou Brothers with prejudice, they cannot help but also take a good long look at the indictment against me “in the interests of justice” as well. Failing that, however, and as I have stated publicly before, I look forward to my trial next February 7. This will give me and my lawyers, William Kopeny and Randy Shiner, the opportunity to show, in open court, just what a pack of lies, misstatements and prevarications the entire prosecution against me has been and is. Justice for me deserves and means nothing less.”