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Judge suspends restitution payments in Thai worker case

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Chief U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway granted a request Monday by federal prosecutors to suspend $48,000 in restitution payments by a man who pleaded guilty to a felony charge related to Aloun Farms bringing in 44 Thai nationals to work at the Kapolei-based agricultural business.

Federal prosecutors asked earlier this month for suspension of payments by Matee Chowsanitphon, the middle man between Thai recruiters and Mike and Alec Sou of Aloun Farms, which hired 44 Thai nationals in 2004.

The prosecutors said the request was the result of “unanticipated developments” that led to the dismissal on Aug. 4 of forced labor charges against the Sous.

Chowsanitphon pleaded guilty in 2009 to not reporting visa fraud involving the workers.

He was sentenced to six months house arrest and ordered to pay 24 of the Thai workers designated as human trafficking victims $2,000 each. 

Chowsanitphon paid $4,966 in restitution, which had been held by the court clerk and not dispersed.

Mollway gave federal prosecutors until Sept. 7 to file a statement on their position on restitution and any other issues related to Chowsanitphon’s sentence.

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