Minneapolis, MN–A Twin Cities woman was sentenced to a year in federal prison following her conviction on multiple charges related to labor trafficking.
Lili Huang, 36 of Woodbury, Minnesota, was sentenced for withholding documents, as well as enslaving, starving and beating a victim in a forced-labor case. Huang, who pleaded guilty May 31, was sentenced before U.S. District Senior Judge David Doty. In addition to the one year and a day in federal prison, Huang will forfeit her house; and she must pay restitution to her victim totaling $95,944.80. She must also pay $27,344.73 in restitution paid for third-party victim services. After she completes her federal prison term, she will be deported to China.
“With today’s sentencing, Lili Huang must accept the consequences of committing such an egregious crime – not only financial repayment, but also the loss of liberty and property,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Gregory Brooker.
“In February 2016, the Woodbury Public Safety Department received training on investigating human trafficking cases and identifying trafficking victims. As a result of this critical training, the responding officers quickly recognized that this individual was a victim of human trafficking and were able to access the appropriate help and resources for the victim,” said Woodbury Police Commander Steve Wills. “The Woodbury Police Department and Washington County Attorney’s Office remain committed to putting resources into combatting all forms of human trafficking.”
Huang brought the victim (identified as F.L.) from Shanghai, China, to her home in Woodbury, Minnesota, to work as a nanny and housekeeper. Although F.L. had previously worked for Huang in China where she cooked, cleaned and cared for her children, the scope of work and the her treatment of F.L. was significantly different once she arrived in Minnesota. Huang forced F.L. to work up to 18 hours per day cooking, cleaning, and providing childcare. Huang was very demanding about household tasks and became emotionally and physically abusive toward F.L. if she did not do exactly what was asked, according to court documents.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in both state and federal court, on April 23, 2016, due to the repeated physical abuse, F.L. asked Huang to buy her an airplane ticket so she could return home to China. Instead of buying her a ticket, Huang took F.L.’s passport and told F.L. that she was not leaving. Huang continued to physically abuse F.L. by kicking, punching, grabbing F.L. by her hair, and subjecting her to other abuse. F.L. documented the physical abuse by using her cellphone to take photographs of the bruises and other injuries. F.L. also hid clumps of her hair under her mattress, which had been grabbed and torn out by the defendant.
On July 13, 2016, F.L. fled the house after Huang approached her with a large kitchen knife. Just after midnight on July 14, 2016, F.L. was found wandering the streets several miles from Huang’s home and was taken to United Hospital for medical treatment. The victim sustained several bruises and injuries to her face, including two black eyes, significant weight loss, and fractures to her sternum and ribs.
The sentence resulted from an investigation from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Woodbury (Minnesota) Police Department, the Washington County (Minnesota) Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), and the U.S. Department of Labor.
Huang pleaded guilty in Washington County to one felony count of third-degree assault and was sentenced on Aug. 11.