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Judge sentences contractor in forced labor case to prison term, orders restitution

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A Hayward construction contractor was sentenced in federal court in Oakland Tuesday to eight years and seven months in prison for his conviction on charges of obtaining forced labor and harboring undocumented workers for private financial gain.

Job Torres Hernandez was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White and was also ordered to pay $919,739 in restitution for unpaid wages to 13 workers. A jury in White’s court convicted Torres in March of the two charges.

Prosecutors said that evidence at the trial showed that Torres recruited most of his workers from Mexico, paid them far less than he promised, threatened to have them deported when they complained and kept some of them in squalid conditions in a Hayward warehouse. Defense attorneys argued in a sentencing brief that Torres, who had a second-grade education in Mexico, was nearly illiterate, did not understand basic business practices and offered workers the option of staying in his warehouse because they did not have an alternative place to stay.

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