An employee at the Italian Consulate and his wife have been accused of allegedly holding a Brazilian woman as a slave at their San Francisco home.
Giuseppe Penzato, 55, and Kesia Penzato, 33, were arrested and charged in federal court Friday with forced labor. Giuseppe Penzato, an administrative clerk at the consulate, was also accused of allegedly taking and refusing to return the woman’s passport.
U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Melissa Saurwein said in a court affidavit that the couple lured the woman to the U.S. in 2009 to work as a domestic servant, but then physically and verbally abused her, failed to pay her negotiated salary, and controlled when she could come and go from their North Beach home.
The couple was scheduled to appear in court again Tuesday.
Reached by phone Tuesday morning, an employee at the Italian consulate, who declined to give her name, would only say that Giuseppe Penzato was “a really, really good person” and that the accusations were “all lies.”