Man, East Providence cleaning company facing labor trafficking charges after raid
A 60-year-old New Bedford man has been arrested on multiple charges, including 12 counts of labor trafficking, for allegedly forcing two women to work for a cleaning company.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on Monday said Fernando Roland “recruited a woman from abroad” in April 2016 and told her to do cleaning work for Martins Maintenance, a janitorial and maintenance company in East Providence.
NBC 10 News was there when the cleaning company was raided in March as authorities carried boxes of items out of the building.
“The victim allegedly worked more than 40 hours a week and during the first several weeks was paid no wages for the work she completed,” according to a press release.
Authorities also noted that an investigation revealed that she was eventually paid well below minimum wage.
“Out of the cash she received each week, she was required to return money for housing and transportation to Roland and (his live-in girlfriend Lisa) Matthews,” authorities noted.
Police said the woman was never paid overtime or provided health insurance coverage or any other employee benefits. Roland also allegedly forced her to complete household chores at his house.
Authorities also said Roland forced another woman to work for the company for low wages, as well as physically threatened her.
Meanwhile, Martins Maintenance Inc., was also charged, as the company was indicted on seven counts of trafficking of persons for forced service, nine counts of failure to pay minimum wage, eight counts of failure to pay overtime.
“The AG’s Office alleges that Martins Maintenance had knowledge of the conduct of its employee, Roland, related to his forcing the two individuals to do work for the company,” according to authorities.
While Roland was also charged with assaults and wage theft, Matthews was indicted on one count of conspiracy to traffic persons for forced services.
Meanwhile, the release noted that Healey’s Victim Services Division is working to help the women get the assistance and services they need.