The Lakireddy Bali Reddy Case
A Family's Criminal Conspiracy Involving Sexual Slavery & Indentured Servitude In Berkeley
by Diana Russell & Marcia Poole 2001
Lakireddy Bali Reddy
Lakireddy Bali Reddy was born in 1937 in Velvadam, a rural village of 8,000 people in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where Telugu is the language spoken. When he was 17, he married a 14-year old — the first of his three marriages, none of which lasted.
Reddy came to the United States in 1960 when he was in his early 20s to study engineering at University of California in Berkeley, but found business more to his liking.
He opened the Pasand Madras Indian Cuisine Restaurant in downtown Berkeley in 1975. With the proceeds from this successful business, he started buying rundown Berkeley apartment buildings. Eventually he owned over 1,000 apartments which earned him approximately one million dollars a month, making him the largest and wealthiest landlord in Berkeley after the University of California. He also opened a construction company which he partnered with a brother, a Real Estate Company located a few doors down from the Pasand Restaurant, a second Pasand Restaurant in Santa Clara, and nightclubs in Berkeley and San Francisco. By 2000, his properties were valued at more then $69 million.
According to journalist Anita Chabria (2001),
"Reddy ruled over his victims like a feudal lord, imposing his law rather than U.S. law by keeping his targets isolated and afraid — of him, and of their tenuous position as illegal immigrants — and by importing the rules of the caste system, an apartheid that India has fought to eradicate but that still governs the daily lives of many Hindus." (November 25)
"Reddy, who visited Velvadam twice a year, was often praised for his alleged altruism because of his many useful community projects in this village. For example, he
built two elementary schools and a high school, created sources of clean drinking water and paid for a new wing at the local hospital. He spent more than $1 million to build the Lakireddy Bali Reddy College of Engineering, where more than 400 students study on state-of-the-art computers." (Chabria, November 25,2001).
By 1986, he also "began providing a back door into America for some of the village's poorest residents" (Chabria).
George Iype, an Associate editor of an Indian on-line daily publication (Rediff.com), offers the following explanation for Reddy's so-called altruism: "Charity was Balireddy's weapon. He paid at least Rs 500,000 each for the Mahashivratri and Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations every year. Small wonder then that he became a cult figure to the villagers, who looked at him with awe."
It was Reddy's massive earnings from his many Berkeley businesses and his harsh exploitation of his employees that enabled Reddy to enhance his power and prestige in Velvadam, where he was seen as God, by donating some of his ill-gotten riches for his community ventures. It is not unusual in many societies for "generous" donations to serve a necessary or important avenue to power and status.
Many of the residents of Velvadam are Dalits — or so-called "untouchable" people — on the bottom rung of Indian society. The Dalits constitute one sixth of India's population. Chabria (2001) notes that Dalits are treated as subhuman, so low that they are not even considered part of Hinduism's caste system. They're only allowed work that Hindus don't want, such as cleaning sewers and toilets, removing carcasses or digging graves."
Although Reddy does not belong to the highest caste, the Brahmins, his caste status is much higher than the poverty-stricken Dalit villagers in Velvadam. Reddy's three sex slaves, who were all born in Velvadam, and most of the other indentured laborers whom he enabled to come to Berkeley, are Dalits.
United States Attorney
Northern District of California 11th Floor, Federal Building
450 Golden Gate Avenue, Box 36055
San Francisco, California 94102
June 21, 2001
The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced that Lakireddy Bali Reddy was sentenced yesterday to 97 months in federal prison. The sentence was handed down by Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong following a guilty plea to one count of conspiring to commit immigration fraud, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. 371, two counts of transportation of minors for illegal sexual activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2423, and one count of subscribing to a false tax return, in violation of Title 26, U.S.C. 7206.
Mr Reddy, 64 years old, a resident of Berkeley, California, was charged in a criminal information filed by the U. S. Attorney's Office. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Mr. Reddy pled guilty to all four counts charged against him in the information.
In his plea agreement, the defendant admitted that between 1986 and January 2000, he arranged to bring Indian nationals into the United States using fraudulent visas. In particular, Mr. Reddy admitted that he made arrangements to have Venkateswara Vemireddy enter the United States on a fraudulent visa, to bring his sister into the United States posing as his wife, and to bring two minor girls into the United States as their daughters. He admitted that he intended to have sexual intercourse with both victims, who were younger than 16 years old. Another victim girl was reported to be 13 years of age in 1991 when she was brought by Mr. Reddy into the United States with false documents, and that he intended to have sexual intercourse with her.
Mr. Reddy admitted that he and other defendants arranged for the entry into the United States of between 25 and 99 Indian nationals on the basis of fraudulent visas. At least some of these aliens were vulnerable victims because they were young women and girls who came from poor families in India and who were dependent upon the defendant for employment, housing, sustenance, and income both in India and in the United States.
On March 5, 2001, Mr. Reddy's brother, Jayaprakash, and sister-in-law, Annapurna Lakireddy, plead guilty to conspiring with Mr. Reddy to commit immigration fraud. Their sentencing is set for July 24, 2001 at 9 a.m. in federal court in Oakland before Judge Armstrong.
Mr. Reddy's sons, Vijay and Prasad Lakireddy, remain charged with conspiracy to bring aliens into the United States illegally and other related offenses, including the importation and harboring of aliens for immoral purposes and travel in foreign commerce for sex with a juvenile.
Their next scheduled court appearance was June 26, 2001 at 9 a.m. in Oakland before Judge Armstrong.
Judge Armstrong sentenced the defendant to 97 months in federal prison and restitution of $2 million as well as a three-year period of supervised release. Additionally, Mr. Reddy must register with the state of California as a sex offender. The defendant will begin serving the sentence immediately.
The prosecution is the result of a lengthy investigation by the immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the Berkeley Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Corrigan and the Department of Justice, Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division with the assistance of the Berkeley City Attorney's Office and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.
Lakireddy Bali Reddy was released from prison on April 2, 2008. There was no media coverage of the event. He quietly took up residence in a new palacial mansion that was built for him in the Berkeley hills while he was in prison. He is currently registered as a sex offender on the State of California Attorney General's Megan's list.