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NY Slave-Ring Chief Pleads Guilty

December 19, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ A woman pleaded guilty Thursday to enslaving 60 deaf Mexican immigrants and forcing them to peddle trinkets in subways and on the streets of New York City.

Adriana Paoletti Lemus, 29, one of two alleged ringleaders in the scheme, pocketed more than $1 million in 1996 from sales of the key chains and other trinkets, federal prosecutors said.

The scheme was exposed last July when four of the victims fled their ``workhouse″ in Queens and told police about their plight.

Police found dozens of people _ smuggled into the country illegally _ living in cramped conditions in two Queens homes. Several people were arrested.

Ms. Lemus admitted that workers were disciplined with stun guns and one worker was chained to a bedpost to discourage escape attempts.

She pleaded guilty to involuntary servitude, money laundering conspiracy, alien smuggling, obstruction of justice and witness tampering, prosecutor Leslie Cornfeld said. She could receive up to 17 years in prison at her sentencing March 13.

Ms. Lemus is the 16th defendant to plead guilty in the case.

Charges against her brother, Renato Paoletti Lemus, 24, another alleged ringleader, are still pending.

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