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Ex-deputy, wife plead guilty in nanny case
Couple admit they hid illegal worker
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Forsyth County News

A former Forsyth County Sheriff's deputy and his wife have admitted wrongdoing in a case of reported nanny abuse.

Russell and Malika Garrett, both 43, of Woodstock each pleaded guilty Friday to one count of harboring an alien for private financial gain, according to a report from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the northern district of Georgia.

Malika Garrett also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of making a false statement to the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Their sentencing has been scheduled for April 22 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Russell Garrett faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and Malika Garrett faces a possible 15 years.

A federal grand jury issued a nine-count indictment in June against the couple on charges of human trafficking, alien harboring, witness tampering and making false statements.

Russell Garrett's father, former Fulton County Magistrate Judge D. William Garrett Jr., was also indicted on the charges. His status could not be determined Friday afternoon.

After the indictment, Russell Garrett was put on administrative leave from his post in the sheriff's office courthouse services division.

Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton said Friday that Garrett was terminated July 24.

"He's not representative of the people in the sheriff's office nor in law enforcement as a career," Paxton said.

According to her Web site, Malika Garrett is a native of India and attended Wesleyan College in Macon.

Her paintings and photography are featured on the site, as well as links to media reports about her art. The site also features photos of Malika and Russell Garrett and their children.

Citing information presented in court, the report from the U.S. Attorney's Office said between February 2003 and June 2005 the couple harbored a woman from India who had entered the United States under false pretenses.

The report said they hid her and "attempted to do so, all for the purpose of their own private financial gain."

It goes on to say that Russell and Malika Garrett admitted making the woman work as a nanny and that she was initially underpaid and later not paid at all.

"The Garretts acknowledged that they told the victim that, if she left their home, she would be deported and jailed for an extended period of time -- a condition that the defendants understood would cause great shame to the victim, a Muslim woman," the report said.

She reportedly escaped with the help of a neighbor.

U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias called the Garretts' actions "a crime of greed" that deprives immigrant domestic workers of "their civil rights and often, as in this case, their freedom."

"Coercing such victims with threats of jail and deportation and lying to federal agents is also an abuse of the legal system," he said in a statement.

"Regardless of their citizenship or immigration status, crime victims can bring their cases to federal officials without fear of reprisal."