By Philip Newman
A Queens County grand jury has indicted a foreign diplomat on charges of labor trafficking, assault and other charges for allegedly keeping a foreign national as a virtual slave in the envoy’s Jamaica Estates home for years, Queens district attorney Richard Brown said.
The diplomat is accused of not paying the household worker and using threats mixed with occasional physical harm for years to detain him until the victim managed to escape, according to Brown.
Brown said the defendant is Mohammed Shaheldul Islam, 45, who has limited immunity that pertains specifically to officials actions. Brown said Islam holds the post of deputy consul general of Bangladesh.
Islam was indicted June 12 before Queens Supreme Court Judge Daniel Lewis, who set bail at $50,000 and ordered the defendant to surrender his passport. Islam’s next court date is June 28.
If convicted, Islam could face up to 15 years in prison.
The 33-count indictment includes grand larceny, assault, labor trafficking, unlawful imprisonment, failure to pay the minimum wage and harassment.
Brown said the indictment specified that Islam brought Mohammed Amin from Bangladesh to Queens between 2012 and 2013 to work in the diplomat’s household. Soon after Amin’s arrival the defendant was alleged to have seized Amin’s passport and required him to work 18 hours a day, the indictment said.
Brown said that even though Mr. Amin had a contract which outlined his compensation, it is alleged that he was never paid for his work.
“If the victim disobeyed the defendant’s orders, Mr. Amin was allegedly physically assaulted,” the DA said.
“Åfter local news coverage of an Indiandiplomat being charged with labor trafficking, the defendant allegedly sought to cover his own alleged actions by taking most of Mr. Amin’s tip money (awarded by guests at dinner parties) which he gave back in the form of a check,” Brown said. “It was alleged that the victim then had to deposit the check into his bank account, thereby creating the appearance that the employee was receiving a paycheck.”
The prosecutor said when Mr. Amin asked to leave the defendant’s employ on several occasion, his boss allegedly threatened to kill his mother and young son and, on occasion, said he would have Mr. Amin’s college age daughter ‘shamed.’ ”
In May 2016 Mr. Amin escaped and reported his experience to police.