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|March 20, 2000
'Father' of dead girl charged
R S Shankar
Venkateswara Vemireddy, the recipient of wide sympathy in November when one of his two 'daughters' died due to carbon monoxide leak in Berkeley, was charged last weekend with two counts of helping bring aliens illegally into the United States.
He was also indicted on a charge of conspiring with Berkeley landlord Lakireddy Bali Reddy, 62, and his son, Vijaykumar Lakireddy, 30, to smuggle the teenage sisters by submitting false visa applications. The girls, 17 and 15, were daughters of an impoverished family in Andhra Pradesh known to Reddy and Vemireddy, the authorities say.
Reddy reportedly had sex with the girls in India and continued the relationship after they arrived in America. The dead girl was pregnant at the time of her death, autopsy reports show.
Vemireddy was described in the media variously as a civil engineer or computer programmer at the time of the girl's death. But he was helping Reddy's restaurants working in the kitchen. He was taken into custody by the Immigration and Naturalization Service soon after Reddy was arrested in January and released on a $ 10 million bond. Also arrested is the woman who had posed as Vemireddy's wife; authorities say she is his sister.
Reddy and his son are charged, among other things, of submitting false visa applications that allowed them to import the girls.
The girls who arrived from India last summer, 17-year-old Shanti Prattipati and her 15-year-old sister, did menial work for Reddy. Carbon monoxide fumes overcame them in November in one of Reddy's apartments where, authorities said, he had sex with them.
Authorities said Reddy had given Vemireddy and his sister $ 6,500 to come to the United States while acting as husband and wife and as parents of the two teenagers, who were brought to America under assumed names. The dead girl was known as Sitha.
In exchange, Vijaykumar Lakireddy, the owner of the software company Active Tech Solutions in Berkeley, allegedly submitted a fraudulent visa application in March 1998 that allowed Vemireddy to come to the United States last April, purportedly to work as a company analyst.
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