Mordechai Orian, CEO of Global Horizons, who is facing charges relating to the alleged trafficking of farm workers from Thailand to America, was set to go to trial on February 7, 2012.
Orian’s attorney William Kopeny aggressively challenged the federal prosecutors’ multiple attempts to delay his client’s trial another nine months.
Orian said he is confident that he will be found innocent of the long list of charges against him and wants the trial, which has already been delayed several months, to be over.
But U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi, who first agreed with Kopeny that the trial should go on as scheduled, granted the government a nearly 7-month extension in a December 20 order.
The trial, which has garnered international attention, has been continued until August 28, 2012, at 9 a.m., with a final pretrial conference set for July 30, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.
Orian, an Israeli national who lives with his wife and three children in California, said the government has seized 77 of his computer hard drives and he is unable to operate his business, which is unrelated to the now defunct Global Horizons, without them.
The court agreed with Orian, issuing an order on December 20 mandating the U.S. Justice Department to immediately copy and turn over the information to Orian and his co-defendants.
Six Global Horizons employees were indicted criminally in September 2010, including Orian, three executives and two Thai labor contractors, in what justice officials said was the largest human-trafficking case ever brought by federal authorities.
On January 14, a 10-count superseding indictment charged two other people in Los Angeles, Joseph Knoller and Bruce Schwartz, as co-conspirators.
Three people have pled guilty in federal court.
One of the most challenging aspects of prosecuting this case is the U.S. attorney’s decision this Fall to replaced its entire prosecution team – from FBI agents to federal prosecutors.
The original federal prosecutor from Washington DC, Susan French and Kevonne Small of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, and two other people on their team, were removed from the case. French bungled a separate high proflle human trafficking trial involving Thai workers brought to Hawaii from Thailand by Aloun Farm owners Mike and Alec Sou.
After a series of missteps, French fell ill during the second week of the September trial, which was expected to continue for another two to three weeks. A couple of days later, without any explanation, the U.S. Justice Department announced they would drop the charges against the Sou brothers.
Though the trial attorneys have not used this change in the prosecution as an explanation for delaying the trial, Orian’s attorney noted in court this likely is the reason the prosecution is not prepared for the February trial.
For more information on this case, see both sides of the story, first in an exclusive interview with Motty Orian on Hawaii Reporter Television and a first hand account from the Thai workers recruited by Global in this story Thai Workers Suffered Under Global Horizon Management