Resentencing of man in sex, tax case delayed
Judge agrees to inquiry into statements made by Lakireddy Bali Reddys victims
By Josh Richman, Inside Bay Area,
OAKLAND — A federal judge once again postponed resentencing a Berkeley businessman already serving time for bringing girls and women from India to the Bay Area for cheap labor and sexual favors, heeding defense attorneys demand for a deeper re-investigation of victims shaky statements.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken said Monday shes inclined to give Lakireddy Bali Reddy, 69 , the same prison term he received the first time: 97 months. Hes now in the federal prison at Lompoc, with a March 2008 release date.
Defense attorneys in recent years convinced Wilken to reexamine that sentence — imposed by a different judge who since has recused herself from the case — due to problems that surfaced after his 2001 plea bargain. Telegu-speaking interpreters who had worked with the alleged victims were found to have exaggerated or misrepresented some testimony, and their stories proved inconsistent over time.
Now at issue is whether victims statements to a probation officer who prepared a pre-resentencing report are reliable and detailed enough.
Defense attorneys Ted Cassman and Cris Arguedas argued Monday that the report doesnt adequately address earlier inconsistencies in the statements, doesnt clearly state whether the victims were reinterviewed by phone or in person, doesnt identify interpreters who assisted these new interviews and has other flaws.
I dont think that anyone can rely on any of these statements until theyve been adequately probed, Arguedas said, arguing for a maximum of 78 months.
Wilken said the cases totality inclines her to resentence Reddy to 97 months, even if individual victims statements remain in question. But pressed by the defense, she agreed to order the probation office to contact the now-retired officer who prepared the report and ask her to clarify some of the issues still in question if she can.
Wilken asked to have that information by March 27, giving Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Corrigan until April 10 to reply and the defense until April 24 to reply to that. So, the earliest Reddy can be resentenced will be May 1.
Reddy and his son, Vijay Lakireddy, first were indicted in 2000, accused of having had an Indian man pose as the father of two sisters to bring them into the country on fraudulent temporary work visas. The elder sister died in November 1999 of carbon monoxide poisoning after a heater in her Berkeley apartment malfunctioned.
Prosecutors said these girls and others brought here by similar means were used by Reddy as workers at his and his familys businesses, and for his own sexual gratification. Reddys other son, Prasad Lakireddy, as well as Reddys brother and sister-in-law, were charged later in 2000 with related crimes.
Reddy pleaded guilty in 2001 to two counts of importing minors for immoral sexual purposes and one count each of tax fraud and conspiracy to commit immigration fraud.
Vijay Lakireddy pleaded guilty in 2002 to one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and was sentenced to two years in prison, which he has served. Prasad Lakireddy pleaded guilty in 2003 to one count of conspiracy to employ unauthorized aliens and was sentenced to one year of home detention, a $20,000 fine and 300 hours of community service.
Reddys brother and sister-in-law, Jayaprakash and Annapurna Lakireddy, each pleaded guilty to one count of immigration fraud in 2001; he was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison and was released last June, while she served six months of home detention and paid a $2,000 fine. Venkateswara Vemireddy, whod posed as the girls father, was given probation and deported to India.