The wealthy couple accused of enslaving two Indonesian women in their Long Island home can't buy their way out of prison for $3.5 million. A judge rejected the multi-million dollar bail plan for Varsha and Mahender Sabhnani, calling it an "open invitation to a tea party... a virtual open house." Prosecutors say the couple tortured two women and kept them virtual prisoners in their home while forcing them to work.
The Sabhnanis proposed plan would have averaged about $5,000 a day and would have required the couple, who built a fortune creating perfumes and also owned an apartment in Manhattan, to hire a company to guard them, plus surrender all cellphones (including their children's) and only have working phone and fax lines (no Internet), as well as wear electronic monitoring bracelets and have guards accompany them to approved visits to lawyers, religious services, and health care providers. Even though the plan was tentatively agreed to, U.S. District Judge Thomas Platt told the defense, "Make it as if it were a jail, not a country club," calling them a flight risk and criticized the fact that other people would be able to come and go freely. From Newsday:
"I want adequate guards - 24 hours a day - not one man sitting in the cellar," Platt said.
Platt said that, as he envisioned a proper home jail for the Sabhnanis, there would be, at the very least, an additional two guards outside at all times; there would have to be floodlighting around the perimeter of the house; all the entrances would have to be sealed except for one door; and anybody entering or leaving the house, including the four Sabhnani children, would have to sign waivers consenting to be searched at any time.
Platt also wanted all the expenses to be paid for by the Sabhnanis in advance so that, he said, the government does not get stuck with a bill should they flee.
A lawyer for Varsha Sabhnani said he believed those bail conditions could be met. And their 22-year-old daughter, Pooja Sabhnani, a Parsons graduate, was raked over the coal by the Post, when the tabloid checked out her Friendster page (now unavailable) and found that one of her favorite movies was Lifetime movie Human Trafficking.