A Vietnamese woman identified as A.V. escaped from a Fairview Township house in June 2008, where she had been held for nearly four years, according to federal charging documents.

She carried her personal belongings wrapped in a sheet, documents state.

A client A.V. had met at a West Manchester Township nail salon helped her escape, after she had told the client that a woman named Lynda Dieu Phan was forcing her and another Vietnamese national, identified as T.V., to work without pay.

The two women stayed in Lynda Dieu Phan's home in the 500 block of Sandpiper Lane in Fairview Township and worked every day in her nail salons under the threat of being turned over to immigration officials as illegal aliens, documents state.

On Tuesday, Lynda Dieu Phan, 39; her brother Justin Phan, 36; and her boyfriend, Duc Cao Nguyen, 41, pleaded guilty to federal charges.

The three face maximum sentences of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a maximum of three years supervised release.

In addition, the three have agreed to pay a total of $300,000 to the two women in back-pay, the majority of the money coming from seizures of Lynda Dieu Phan and Nguyen's home, Nguyen's 2008 Toyota Highlander and money found in several bank accounts, documents state.


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A.V. told immigration authorities that she was living in Vietnam until the age of 20 with her aunt, with whom Lynda Dieu Phan made arrangements to bring A.V. to the United States and to work in Phan's nail salon.

In 2004, A.V. entered the U.S. through JFK International Airport. A.V. was told she would have to work to pay back the plane ticket and immigration paperwork.

A.V. was told to pretend that Justin Phan was her boyfriend and that they were going to get married. Later that year, the two entered into a "sham marriage," documents state.

"A.V. stated that Lynda Dieu Phan took her to an immigration attorney in York, PA, who filed immigration applications for A.V. based upon the marriage to Justin Phan," documents state.

In March 2005, Lynda Dieu Phan arranged for T.V. to enter the U.S. through San Francisco, Calif. That August, T.V. and Duc Cao Nguyen entered into a sham marriage, documents state.

From the start, the two women were forced to work in Lynda Dieu Phan's nail salons without payment. A.V. worked from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays, documents state.

A.V. worked at the now-defunct Nail Palace in the West Manchester Mall until May 2008 when it closed. T.V. worked at the Da Vi Nail Salon in the Walmart at the mall and was later joined by A.V., documents state.

The Da Vi Nail Salon remains open, but its ownership is not known. A spokesman for the Da Vi franchise in Utah declined to identify the owner.

A.V. did not receive any vacation time and the only days she did not go to work were the days the mall was closed, documents state. The only money she received were the tips customers gave her.

After working for Lynda Dieu Phan for three years, A.V. had fulfilled her initial agreement, although at that time, Lynda Dieu Phan never talked to A.V. about it, documents state.

When A.V. confronted Lynda Dieu Phan about money that was owed to her, Lynda Dieu Phan told her she now owed rent and utilities for staying at her home.

"The amounts that Lynda Dieu Phan demanded from A.V. were inconsistent, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 at different times for the cost of plane tickets and immigration fees," documents state.

A.V. began to realize that Lynda Dieu Phan had not filed any immigration paperwork for her and that her "conditional residence status" had expired in April of 2008.

Fearful that she was now illegally living and working in the U.S., A.V. decided to leave Lynda Dieu Phan's home, documents state.

tczech@ydr.com; 771-2033.

AT A GLANCE

Names: Lynda Dieu Phan, 39, and her boyfriend, Duc Cao Nguyen, 41, both of Fairview Township; and Justin Phan, 36, of Tennessee, Lynda Dieu Phan's brother.

Charges: Lynda Dieu Phan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit forced labor trafficking, forced labor and marriage fraud. Nguyen and Justin Phan pleaded guilty to marriage fraud.

What happened: They were accused of conspiring to bring two women from Vietnam to York County to work in Lynda Dieu Phan's nail salons. The women were essentially held captive, not paid for their work and kept in what amounted to indentured servitude, according to federal documents.

The case came to the federal authorities' attention after one of the woman escaped from Lynda Dieu Phan's New Cumberland home with the help of one of her longtime customers. The woman fled the home at 1:30 a.m. June 1, 2008.

Other details: The two victims, A.V. and T.V., were forced to pay for bunk beds at Lynda Dieu Phan's home, but were not given mattresses, so they slept on the floor, documents state.

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