After an investigation by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security (HSI) Sophia Manuel and Alfonso Baldonado Jr. were sentenced in a forced labor conspiracy on December 10.
It was uncovered during the investigation that Manuel and Baldonado Jr., owners of Quality Staffing Services Corporation, were forcing 39 Filipino nationals to work in country clubs and hotels around Southeast Florida. The pair first made the Filipino nationals pay up-front recruitment fees, which they knew they didn’t have so the Filipino nationals were already in debt. Then, when they no longer wanted to work, Manuel and Baldonado threatened to arrest and deport them. The nonpayment of debts is very serious in the Philippines and the two knew they could use that against the workers to stay. Manuel was sentenced to 78 months in prison not only for her crimes against the Filipino nationals but she also admitted to making false statements on a form filed with the US Department of Labor. Baldonado was sentenced to 51 months in prison.