The chief executive of a company allegedly involved in a large-scale human trafficking scheme pleaded not guilty in federal court yesterday.
Mordechai Yosef Orian surrendered to federal authorities yesterday afternoon. He is one of six people associated with Global Horizons Manpower Inc., a Los Angeles-based recruitment contractor. He is accused of circulating 400 Thai workers through Hawaii by extortion and circumventing the visa process for foreign employment.
He is being detained by federal authorities until at least Wednesday, when U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi will hold a detention hearing to determine whether Orian is a flight risk.
FBI Special Agent Tom Simon said Orian hired a public relations firm to negotiate the terms of his surrender, creating a "major saga" in the process.
"During the course of our investigation for the past 24 hours, we were told he was in Los Angeles, Texas and Albuquerque," Simon said. "We believe he was not in all three places at the same time."
The public relations firm then gave federal authorities an itinerary for a flight arriving at 11:30 a.m. yesterday. When the FBI waited for him at the airport, Orian apparently arrived on a different flight and was taking a cab to his lawyer’s office in Honolulu, Simon said.
"This became a bit of a comedy of errors for us," he said.
The case involved 14 Hawaii farms, including Aloun Farms, whose owners are being sentenced next week after pleading guilty to forced-labor conspiracy charges.
Eric Seitz, attorney for one of the Aloun Farms owners, said the farm cooperated with federal investigators. Simon said yesterday the Aloun Farms principals did meet with federal authorities, but prosecutors did not believe the owners were being "completely forthcoming."