73 year old Romulo ‘Ome’ Almeda kept an illegal immigrant woman secluded in his Magnolia home for four years. He paid her a measly $400 a month for acting as the nanny, landscaper, maid and cook. She was shuffled between his properties in Magnolia and in California, not given a choice as to when she would go or whether she wanted to. She was not allowed to go anywhere including attend church for fear that someone would see her and report her as an illegal immigrant.
The woman left the Philippines where she earned $6 an hour as a manicurist to find better opportunities in the U.S. Out of the $400 she was receiving each month for working 12 to 16 hours a day, she would send all but $50 to $100 to her family in the Philippines. After years of seclusion she was eventually able to tell her family of her situation. Her sister then contacted another Filipino family in Seattle who then got in touch with a local pastor who was able to help remove the woman from the house in April 2009.
Almeda was arrested and believed at the time that he did nothing wrong and that he was simply helping the woman by offering her extra money and a place to stay. He later admitted wrong-doing and realized that what he did was unlawful. He paid the woman $90,500 for what he shorted her in wages. He was charged and reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. He has not been jailed and has been scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday.