Vietnamese cousins indicted over false human trafficking allegation in Pennington

Posted on August 25, 2012


Ngoc Hong Doan, left, and Long Ngoc Nguyen, both 23.

TRENTON — Two Vietnamese cousins were indicted today for falsely accusing their New Jersey host family of human trafficking and forced servitude in nail salons without pay, state authorities said.

Long Ngoc Nguyen and Ngoc Hong Doan, both 23, who now live in Minnesota, told state and federal authorities for more than two years they were victimized by a Pennington couple who took them in when they came to the United States only to take away their passports and enslave them, the Attorney General’s Office said in a news release.

They claimed their families arranged for them to come on student visas in 2007 so they could attend community college in Seattle, the office said. They said they were only supposed to stay with the New Jersey couple for a month, but were never allowed to leave and instead were forced to work in their home and nail salons without pay.

The cousins eventually complained about the conditions to their family in Vietnam, who had them relocated to Minnesota and contacted a Vietnamese assistance agency there, who alerted federal authorities, the office said. The pair allegedly told their false story to U.S. immigration and customs officials in order to obtain false visas for human trafficking victims, the office said.

Federal officials then contacted the state Division of Criminal Justice for an investigation.

The pair stuck with their story until May 17, authorities said, when they were slated to testify before a grand jury against the Pennington couple. At that time, the office said they recanted and admitted their allegations were false.

State authorities said the pair actually came to the United States on student visas but never intended on going to school. They lived and worked with the Pennington couple for more than a year and were paid while they attempted to establish legal residency. But authorities allege they became aggravated when the New Jersey couple did not help them acquire legal resident status.

Deputy Attorney General Asha Vaghela presented the case to the state grand jury.

Christopher Baxton