POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 14, 2010
A federal judge has ordered the return of $196,000 the operators of Aloun Farms had previously paid as restitution for 24 Thai workers they are accused of exploiting.
Brothers Alec and Mike Sou paid the money in August after they pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit forced labor in connection with the importation of 44 farm workers from Thailand.
The money was not distributed but held by the court. It was to be distributed to up to 24 workers at $8,000 each worker. At the time the Sous agreed to pay the restitution, the government had identified 21 workers as victims of human trafficking.
The $8,000 represented up to half of the upfront money the workers paid recruiters to get the farm jobs on Aloun Farms.
The Sous withdrew their guilty pleas last month and are scheduled to go to trial next month.