Who needs Bollywood when you have U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NYC Preet Bharara to provide better entertainment on a Friday by re-indicting former NYC Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.
I have not the slightest doubt that this Friday’s Bollywood release Bewakoofiyaan has no hope against the might of the Bharara-Devyani juggernaut and will sink miserably at the box office.
In any case, given a choice between the sexy Indian diplomat Devyani and Bollywood chatterbox Sonam Kapoor, I’ll take Devyani any day.
Thank you, Bharara! You saved me $11 today (price of a Bollywood movie ticket in the U.S.).
Devyani Re-Indicted Today
Former NYC Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade has been re-indicted on the twin charges of visa fraud and making false statements in the matter of her maid Sangeeta Richard’s wages.
A 21-page indictment document, approved by a U.S. Grand Jury, was filed in court today by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Devyani’s re-indictment comes two days after her previous, January 9, 2014, indictment was thrown out on technical grounds by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin.
In her March 12, 2014 order, Judge Scheindlin ruled that Devyani had legal immunity when she was indicted on January 9, 2014.
But Judge Scheindlin allowed for a fresh indictment to be filed against Devyani Khobragade. And Bharara took advantage of the opportunity by re-indicting Devyani today.
Devyani was kicked out of the U.S. on January 9, 2014 after the Indian government declined to waive her immunity.
Devyani’s arrest and strip-search on December 12, 2013 by NYC authorities triggered a diplomatic crisis between India and the U.S.
Like a lot of Indian politicians and bureaucrats, Devyani Khobragade is a highly controversial figure and extremely wealthy – the woman grabbed an apartment meant for Kargil war widows at the Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai.
Devyani’s maid Sangeeta Richard has detailed how she was abused by Devyani and made to work for slave wages.
If you believe Sangeeta, her wages were as low $1.22 per hour (see p.7 of re-indictment document) when the legal minimum is $7.25 per hour.
Fraudulent Employment Contract
The re-indictment filing details how Devyani Khobragade signed two employment contracts with her maid Sangeeta Richard.
One contract showing compliance with U.S. wage laws was submitted to the U.S. Embassy in India to obtain a U.S. Visa for Sangeeta. Preet Bharara describes this contract as a “fraudulent employment agreement” in the re-indicment.
The second contract showing the real wages to be paid to Sangeeta was hidden from U.S. authorities because the wages were far lower than the stipulated NYC wages.
The re-indictment also alleges that Devyani coached Sangeeta to lie to U.S. officials at the Embassy so that the maid could get a A-3 Visa based on a fraudulent employment contract (see p.11 of re-indictment filing).
Blow to Devyani, India
The fresh indictment is a severe blow to both Devyani and the Government of India, which had been pressuring the U.S. to end Devyani’s legal troubles.
Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh brought up Devyani’s case during the recent visit of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal to New Delhi.
Following her humiliating ordeal in the U.S. and subsequent expulsion, Devyani Khobragade is working on a desk job at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.
Devyani’s re-indictment adds to the risk of her re-arrest if she sets foot in the U.S. and increases the legal bills for the Government of India (which presumably is footing the diplomat’s legal bills).