Assets of man convicted in `slave' case are frozen

Brazilian trying to avoid paying $160,000, FBI says

June 01, 2000|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

Convicted of violating immigration laws by keeping a Brazilian woman in his home as a live-in slave, Rene R. Bonetti started quietly moving his assets overseas to avoid paying the woman as much as $160,000 in restitution, federal investigators say.

Last week, a federal judge froze Bonetti's assets after FBI investigators documented that Bonetti, 51, was selling his property and arranging to have his belongings shipped from his Gaithersburg home to his native Brazil.

U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow also ordered Bonetti to revoke the power of attorney he had granted to his mother-in-law and the transfer of title on his Alfa Romeo sports car to his son, Arthur Vincent Bonetti.

Bonetti was found guilty in February of violating immigration laws for keeping a Brazilian alien, Hilda Rosa Dos Santos, in his home for 20 years as a housekeeper without paying her.

Bonetti, who has been jailed since his conviction on Feb. 10, is scheduled to be sentenced July 28 at U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. He could get up to 35 years in prison and could have to repay Dos Santos more than $160,000. In court papers, prosecutors argue that the maximum sentence is justified because Bonetti obstructed justice by encouraging his son to give false testimony and urging his wife, Margarida Bonetti, to flee to Brazil.

Margarida Bonetti remains a fugitive. Court records indicate that the couple's son, Arthur, might be rethinking his role in the case. In a sworn statement, FBI Special Agent Donald A. Neily said that on May 5, he interviewed Arthur Bonetti, who "previously indicated a desire to recant all or part of his trial testimony."

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