Posted: Sep 9, 2010 5:37 PM by Greg Boyce
HONOLULU (AP) - The owners of a major Hawaii farm accused of exploiting 44 imported laborers from Thailand have changed their plea to not guilty and are scheduled to stand trial Nov. 9.
The change in plea was made Thursday after Chief U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway took the rare step of rejecting a plea deal because Alec Sou and Mike Sou disputed some of the facts in the human trafficking case. Prosecutors threatened to bring additional charges against the brothers, who operate Aloun Farms on Oahu.
They had been scheduled to be sentenced Thursday and faced up to five years in prison under the agreement that was thrown out.
The Sous acknowledged violations of the U.S. agricultural guest worker program, but they denied withholding passports and pay.