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|March 25, 2000|
Third Man in Sex Ring Case Set Free on Bail
R S Shankar
Venkateswara Vemireddy, the man accused of cutting a deal with Berkeley landlord Lakireddy Bali Reddy and his son Vijaykumar Lakireddy to help smuggle in two teenage sisters from India by posing as their father was arraigned on Thursday and freed on a $ 50,000 bail.
Vemireddy came to America allegedly posing as a computer programmer and began working for the Pasand Madras Cuisine restaurants owned by Reddy for about $ 6 an hour, sources say. A few months after his arrival, one of the two girls who came with him died due to a carbon monoxide leak.
Vemireddy, who is assigned to a half way house, will next appear in the court on April 18.
Since he has no regular income and less than $ 5,000 in assets, the court has assigned him a public lawyer and a Telugu translator. Sources told rediff.com that the Reddy family put up the money for the bail. Reddy himself is out on a $10 million bail and his son on a $ 500,000 bail.
Vemireddy was in protective custody following his arrest soon after the girl's death on November 24. The woman who accompanied him as his wife is still in police custody. Authorities say she is actually his sister.
Vemireddy is reportedly in his late 40s. If found guilty he faces five years in a federal prison, $ 250,000 in fines and would be deported to India.
Authorities allege Reddy, 62, wanted the girls brought over from his home village of Velvadam in Andhra Pradesh so he could have sex with them and use them for cheap labor. The girl who died was several weeks pregnant.
Attorneys for Reddy and his son have asked for DNA tests, asserting that the tests will show that the girl had sex with others, and that Reddy and his son should not be blamed for anything.
Officials also say that Reddy offered to pay Vemireddy's debt to him in India and gave him money to buy airplane tickets for him and his sister.
Last March, Lakireddy signed a petition for a skilled-worker visa on behalf of Vemireddy, noting he would work at Active Tech Solutions as a software programmer and analyst earning $ 42,972 a year, the indictment said.
Lakireddy has been running Tech Solutions for several years.
Officials also say the records show that the Berkeley-based Tech Solutions had applied for at least 21 such visas. The company had only three employees and two officers, authorities said.
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