A Taiwan official has been scheduled for sentencing Friday, more than two months after she was arrested, charged and pleaded guilty to a federal labor violation accusing her of underpaying and overworking two housekeepers.
Liu Hsien Hsien, who is also known as Jacqueline Liu, pleaded guilty Nov. 18 to one count of fraud in foreign labor contracting as part of a plea agreement that also recommends a sentence of time served and immediate deportation. When the plea agreement was announced, U.S. District Judge David Gregory Kays said he would review the agreement and decide later whether to accept it.
Liu, 64, was the former director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City, which is similar to a foreign government consulate, although the U.S. doesn't recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state. Liu has been in custody since her arrest Nov. 10 at her office in Kansas City.
Liu also agreed to pay a total of $80,044 in restitution to the two women _ one who worked for Liu last year, and another who worked for Liu at her home in suburban Kansas City from 2009 to 2010.
The U.S. Attorney's office said each housekeeper gets a portion of that amount based on 16- to 18-hour days, six and a half days a week.
Prosecutors have said they believe Liu is the first foreign official to be charged with fraud in foreign labor contracting charge in the United States. Others have been prosecuted for mistreating domestic workers, but Liu was accused of violating a law covering the recruitment of foreign workers and their transport into the United States on fraudulent terms.
Prosecutors accused Liu of telling the housekeepers they would be paid about $1,240 a month, work 40-hour weeks and would also be entitled to overtime. Instead, they say, the housekeepers were actually paid $400 to $450 a month, worked 16- to 18-hour days and were monitored with video surveillance equipment at Liu's home in Overland Park, Kan.
TECO, the office where Liu served as director general for about two years, is one of about a dozen similar offices that Taiwan has around the U.S. Taiwan has appointed a new director general for the Kansas City office, but the office did not respond to messages for comment.
Linda Trout, executive director of Kanas City's International Relations Council, said she worked with Liu on several occasions. She said the TECO office is one of two paid foreign service offices in Kansas City. Mexico is the other.
The TECO office has been instrumental in developing and maintaining trade relations between the region and Taiwan, Trout said.
"That office did a lot of work in building relations, and there's no doubt that when you look at our biggest trade partners you'd be surprised to see Taiwan up there," she said.