Weekend Reads: Harvard couple harbored illegal immigrant nanny, prevented her from leaving
A Harvard couple is facing charges in federal court for conspiring to harbor an illegal alien for financial gain. Martha and Richard Smalanskas, of Lancaster County Road, were arrested on Thursday, Sept. 20 after an indictment by a grand jury on Sept. 18 charged them with one count of conspiracy and two counts of harboring an illegal alien.
According to the indictment, Martha Smalanskas, 47, and Richard Smalanskas, 48, used a fake birth certificate to acquire a visa to bring a Bolivian woman to the United State to work as their nanny. The indictment alleges that the Smalanskases kept the nanny in the U.S. to work for them and prevented her return to Boliva by taking away her passport and telling her that, according to the indictment, “[I]f she left the United States she would be unable to return and would never see their children again.”
The couple also told the nanny not to speak to other nannies or parents when she was out with the children, refused to teach her to drive, required that she ask permission to leave the house, and refused to provide her opportunities to learn English, the indictment alleges.
The Smalanskases promised the nanny a monthly salary of $100—later $150—for her work, which included cooking, cleaning, and childcare, but did not always pay her, the indictment says. According to the indictment, the Smalanskases kept a ledger which showed they owed the nanny $11,919.55, as of January 2010.
“It was the object and plan of the conspiracy for the defendants to harbor an illegal alien and to have [her] perform, and continue to perform, domestic work and nanny services without paying her a fair wage, all for the defendants’ private financial gain,” the grand jury indictment says.
Martha Smalanskas is a Bolivian native and a naturalized American citizen, according to the court documents. The nanny worked for the Smalanskases in Bolivia for about two years, when she was 16, the indictment says.
After the Smalanskases left Boliva and settled in Massachusetts, the documents allege, they arranged to have the nanny brought to the U.S. to work for them. The couple had a false birth certificate made for the nanny that used Martha Smalanskas’s maiden name as the nanny’s last name, giving the impression that nanny was Smalanskas’s niece, according to the indictment. The Smalanskases again misrepresented the nanny’s name on an application for a B-1 Visitor non-immigrant visa, which was issued on Dec. 5, 1997, the indictment says. When that visa expired on Jan. 13, 1998, the nanny became an illegal immigrant, according to the indictment.
The Smalanskases continued to employ the nanny until May 2011, first in Sudbury and later in Harvard, the charges allege. An April 1, 2008, the indictment says, the nanny told the Smalanskases she needed to return to Bolivia because her father was ill, “but the defendants still refused to return [the nanny’s] passport to her or otherwise assist her in getting back to Bolivia.”
Martha and Richard Smalanskas appeared in U.S. District Court in Boston on Sept. 20. They were each released on a $10,000 bond. Their arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 4.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Smalanskases each face up to 10 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.