Paso Robles couple sentenced to federal prison for smuggling illegal aliens

February 13, 2012

A husband and wife from Paso Robles who admitted harboring illegal aliens after they were smuggled into the United States and forced to work in sub-standard conditions at the couple’s elder care facilities were each sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison.

Maximino Morales, 46, and his wife, Melinda Morales, 48, each received 18-month sentences from United States District Judge Audrey B. Collins earlier today.

“The Filipino victims in this case were lured to the United States with false promises and were essentially performing slave labor,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “We are committed to protecting the basic civil rights of all people, no matter their status in the United States.”

The Morales, both natives of the Philippines, pleaded guilty last May to conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens. The Morales, who operated four elder care facilities under the umbrella of “Four M’s, Inc.,” admitted that they recruited Filipino nationals to come to the United States with promises of work as live-in caregivers.

A co-conspirator in the Philippines helped the aliens obtain fraudulent visas that allowed them to travel to the United States.

After they arrived, “some of the aliens worked alone in 24-hour shifts…as caregivers at one of the Four M’s elder care residential facilities for less than minimum wage,” according to plea agreements filed in this case. “All of the aliens lived in the care facilities, and some of the aliens slept in a closet, on a sofa, and in a walled-off portion of an unheated, attached garage.” The aliens’ pay was credited against the “debt” they purportedly owed, and the aliens were told that police or immigration authorities would be summoned if they attempted to leave.

“The victims in this case were rescued after a concerned member of the community reported the tragic working and living conditions to officials,” said Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The FBI will continue to spread awareness by educating the community on how to identify the signs of labor exploitation, and urges the public to report suspected cases of illegal harboring or human trafficking.”

In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Collins ordered the Morales to pay $600,000 in restitution to nine Filipino victims who were not properly paid for the work they performed.

The FBI arrested Maximino and Melinda Morales on March 30, 2010 when special agents executed search warrants in Paso Robles.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received assistance from the California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division and the United States Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security.



  1. hotdog says:

    Made out like bandits. I’m glad these two slave traders are busted, wish they could get more penalty. But the result of their crimes is far less than the olive ranch and golf course cretins who caused way more damage.

    The words of the US attorney make a mockery of justice. Gearhead, miller of Hurst, Guth and yaguda of EFI and the other white collar crooks in this county have financially ruined over 3000 people. Most of the crooks are still at large after over four years of fiddling around by the so called authorities. Only the efi creeps are in jail, and with overly light sentences.

    The blame goes far and wide, with state and federal oversight (lack of) at the top of the list. But once the crimes and criminals were known every level of government turned its back on this issue until forced to do something, and very little was done in a timely manner. We have seen Madoff, the city of Bell and numerous other instances of criminal behavior come to the forefront, people were tried, convicted and sentenced. Yet our major crooks are still free and laughing at us. They fraudulently declared bankruptcy to avoid their obligations and the overly generous lawyers and courts allowed them to get away with economic murder. Everyone is making out but the investors-shameful.

    (10) 10 Total Votes - 10 up - 0 down
  2. fhill123 says:

    $600,000. is fine but how much did they get in this scheme? And 18 months? Where do I apply for this great gig? If they made $2,000,000 that is $700,000 a year.

    (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
  3. unlisted says:

    Why aren’t these creeps being DEPORTED?

    (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
  4. Jack L says:

    Criminals should pay all costs for their time in the joint. Why should we pay for their screw ups? Why should we pick up the tab? If they have no $, they can work it off on weekends after their full time job each week. Enough of all this crime costing us major $.

    (13) 15 Total Votes - 14 up - 1 down
    • Slowerfaster says:

      And if they don’t have the money, what then ?

      How about we have Gladiatorial contests, with people like yourselves as opponents?

      That would be logical, but still not civilized.

      Thankfully, more of us have progressed into modernity; while Conservitard morons remain inelegant brutes.

      (-5) 11 Total Votes - 3 up - 8 down
  5. The Gimlet Eye says:

    18 months is a travesty.

    (15) 15 Total Votes - 15 up - 0 down
  6. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    18 months!!?? Are you kidding me!!!!!?? With reduced time that most all get, they will be lucky to serve a year. A YEAR!!! For human trafficing no less. Wow it was more than worth the risk for the Morales. If they didn’t get caught they made out. If they did (which of course they did) they get a rub (this isn’t even a slap) on the wrist. GEEZZZ.

    (21) 21 Total Votes - 21 up - 0 down
    • standup says:

      Usually federal sentencing is 90% of the time, although making them live and work under the same conditions for each day per employee would be nice too.

      (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down

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