Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Hawaii Reporter: U.S. District Judge Releases Global Horizons CEO from Local Custody
The story below is reproduced with permission and originally appeared on the Hawaii Reporter website (8/1/2011)
U.S. District Judge Releases Global Horizons CEO from Local Custody
Mordechai Orian, head of Global Horizons Manpower Company, is accused of heading up what the FBI has called the "largest human trafficking case in U.S. history." He and 7 others are charged with trafficking Thai workers to America, including the state of Hawaii. After being indicted on January 14, 2011, three of those indicted have already plead guilty to lesser charges.
Despite pleas to multiple U.S. District judges based here, Orian has been forced to stay in Hawaii with an electronic bracelet monitoring his every move. Prosecutors have successfully argued that Orian, an Israeli national with international ties, is a flight risk. Orian said that was a ridiculous accusation and that he only wanted to go home to California to his wife and three kids and manage his businesses.
Today, Orian, who has his family visiting in Hawaii this week, finally got his way on Tuesday in court. The judge will allow him to go home to California but he still must wear the electronic ankle bracelet.
Orian will have to return at some point to face allegations that he and other defendants promised hundreds of Thai workers high-paying jobs in the United States with some paying fees as high as $21,000, putting up family farms in Thailand as collateral; and once they arrived in the U.S., the workers' passports were confiscated and they were threatened by handlers. The case goes to trial in February 2012.
Orian is surprisingly outspoken about the accusations against him, sitting down with Hawaii Reporter editor Malia Zimmerman to discuss the case and dispute the charges against him. See the 1 hour exclusive video interview here. Orian said his criminal defense lawyer gave him the go-ahead to do the interview because he is not guilty.
Orian also discussed a separate civil case filed April 20, 2011 against Global Horizons and 6 Hawaii farms and two mainland farms by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for alleged labor abuses involving 200 Thai workers.
The commission wants back pay as much as $300,000 in damages for each worker who they said had their rights violated when they had their passports confiscated and were threatened with deportation and violence if they complained about poor housing and working conditions.
Malia Zimmerman is the editor and co-founder of Hawaii Reporter. She has worked as a consultant and contributor to several dozen media outlets including ABC 20/20, FOX News, MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal, UPI and the Washington Times. Malia has been listed as one of the nation’s top "Web Proficients, Virtuosi, and Masters" and "Hawaii's new media thought leader" by http://www.thewebstersdictionary.com Reach her at Malia@hawaiireporter.com