HONOLULU – The owners of Hawaii’s second-largest farm face new federal charges that they exploited dozens of Thai workers by lying about their wages and confining them to the farm.
A federal grand jury re-indicted brothers Alec and Mike Sou of Aloun Farms on charges that they lured the Thai workers to Hawaii with false promises of high wages, and then kept them working by threatening deportation and confiscating their visas.
The Sous initially reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors but then disputed some of the facts they had earlier acknowledged. Chief U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway last month rejected the deal, and the Sous instead pleaded not guilty.
The Sous would have faced up to five years in prison under that agreement.
Now, the Sous could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of the new charges handed down Wednesday.
Attorneys for the Sous said Thursday that they would plead not guilty today to all 12 counts.