Lakireddy Couple's Sentences Handed Down

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OAKLAND-Two members of the Reddy family, linked to an illegal sex and labor ring, avoided prison sentences in Federal Court yesterday.

Annapurna and Jayaprakash Lakireddy, who pleaded guilty to immigration fraud in November, were both handed down sentences of less than a year by U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilkins.

Jayaprakash Lakireddy is the brother of wealthy Berkeley landlord Lakireddy Bali Reddy, who was convicted of importing underage Indian girls for sex and labor.

Jayaprakash Lakireddy is set to begin a 12-month stay at a halfway house on June 17, followed by three years of supervised release. He also must pay a $30,000 fine.

His wife, Annapurna Lakireddy, who pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, will be confined to her home for six months under electronic monitoring. She was fined $2,000.

Defense Attorney William Osterhoudt was pushing for a lighter sentence for Jayaprakash Lakireddy. He said his client's guilt only extended to immigration fraud-not his brother's sex and labor conspiracy.

Calling Jayaprakash Lakireddy's immigration fraud conviction "the only blemish on his life" Osterhoudt recommended that his client spend 10 months split between a halfway house and home-confinement.

In his plea bargain, Jayaprakash Lakireddy admitted to employing young Indian girls who had fraudulent visas. But he told The Daily Californian in July that he "didn't do shit."

Osterhoudt also lauded his client's contributions to the community, showing the court a photograph of a temple in India that he refurbished.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Corrigan argued for a 14-month prison sentence, saying Jayaprakash Lakireddy was well-aware of his brother's dubious activities. Corrigan noted that, at one point, the two worked together on a daily basis.

"(Annapurna and Jayaprakash) were aware of the victimization," Corrigan said.

Judge Wilkins said she found it difficult to believe Jayaprakash Lakireddy did not know about his brother's labor practices.

For local activists, who have followed all the Reddy trials from the onset, the outcome was a disappointment.

"I think it's a travesty of justice," said Marcia Poole, who tipped off police to the sex ring in November 1999. She called the sentence "a little wrap on the knuckles."

Poole said the punishment was especially ironic considering the federal government's crackdown on immigration violations.

Annapurna Lakireddy's sentence, Poole said, was especially appalling. Judge Wilkins said Annapurna Lakireddy would be able to do things such as leave her home to attend her children's sports games, with prior consent.

The Lakireddy couple was originally scheduled to be sentenced in January, but the date was moved back twice.

Two of Reddy's sons also appeared in court yesterday in preparation for their upcoming trial.

Vijay Kumar Lakireddy and Prasad Lakireddy face a variety of charges that include bringing illegal immigrants to the United States for "immoral purposes." Attorneys for the pair have been trying to drop the charges, claiming they are too vague.

The charges allege the two imported underage Indian girls for sex. But attorneys for the sons argued that because the girls would have been of consenting age when they allegedly had sex with the Reddy sons, the sex would not qualify as immoral, and the charges would not apply.

The two brothers are scheduled to go to trial early next year.


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