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January 27, 2000
Man accused of sex crimes out on $ 10 m bail
R S Shankar
In what appears to be one of the toughest bails set in Oakland, Lakireddy Bali Reddy was released from a jail. He has been charged with smuggling a teenage girl from India for sex. The bail was set for $ 10 million. Authorities said more charges are being readied against Reddy.
The Indian community in the Bay Area has reacted strongly to Reddy. Many people, especially those associated with organizations like Maitri or Manvi, believe there are many more cases of sexual slavery in the south Asian community. If the charges against Reddy are proved in court, others in a similar situation may be scared, they said.
Several people have stopped patronizing restaurants owned by Reddy and are sending messages over the Internet to their friends, asking them to stay away from the eating places.
But there are others who believe the charges against Reddy are either exaggerated or simply untrue.
The biggest landlord in Berkeley and the owner of popular Indian restaurants -- one of them situated in Silicon Valley, the 62-year-old Reddy has denied the charges against him. His lawyer said the allegation that Reddy was planning to set up a prostitution ring was false and salacious.
Berkeley Police Captain Bobby Miller announced on Tuesday that his office could file charges of statutory rape against Reddy because he allegedly had sex with two girls, ages 15 and 17, who were living in one of his apartment buildings. One of them, Sitha Vamireddy, died of carbon monoxide leak in an apartment Reddy owned. He allegedly also lived in the apartment, but he was out of the building when the leak occurred.
Meanwhile, federal authorities filed charges against Vijay Kumar Lakireddy, the landlord's son, who owns and manages Active Tech Solutions, a temporary staffing agency.
The officials say the 30-year-old Vijay Kumar allegedly encouraged illegal immigrants to come to America and work for his company, according to an arrest warrant unsealed in a federal court on Tuesday.
"I know once all the facts come out everyone will know we did nothing wrong. Unfortunately, I cannot discuss this," Vijay Kumar Lakireddy said after the hearing.
Last week a court in Oakland rejected his father's offer of a bail of about $ 2 million after the prosecutor argued that he was a "flight risk," and should not be released.
Reddy's release came even as prosecutors alleged in court that eight young women who worked for him have disappeared and may have been returned to India after he was arrested on January 14.
But Judge Wayne D Brazil agreed late on Tuesday to release Reddy after his family consented to freeze ownership in their estimated $ 60-million real estate business.
Dr Hanimi Lakireddy, a brother of the accused, assured the court that the accused would stay in his house during the proceedings.
Judge Brazil ordered Reddy to surrender day-to-day control over his real estate to others during the trial. Reddy cannot contact current or past employees who may be witnesses in the case.
"I don't want any trouble," said Reddy, after promising to abide by the conditions of his release.
City Attorney Manuella Albuquerque told the court on Friday that authorities had found plane tickets to India and a suitcase full of gold in Reddy's home, plus $ 55,000 in cash at his downtown Berkeley real estate office.
"Do you have another suitcase?" Judge Brazil asked Reddy today. "If you have another $ 10 million in Swiss bank accounts, I want to know about it."
Reddy said he wanted to stay out of trouble.
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