Ice cream company forced to end foreign workers program

Thursday, June 5, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A manager of an ice cream truck company will serve probation and pay a fine for enticing Russian students to come to Kansas City and then forcing them to work long hours for little pay.

The company, Frosty Treats, also agreed Wednesday to pay $47,000 in restitution, end its foreign worker program for two years and pay restitution to the six college-age workers.

David L. Carslake, 56, a manager for Frosty Treats, was sentenced Wednesday to probation and to pay a $5,000 fine. He also agreed to a five-year ban on using foreign workers. In the plea deal, he avoided prison and the most serious charges against him.

Authorities said managers at the company collaborated to force the students to work for the ice cream truck company driving the trucks through neighborhoods by telling them they would be seriously harmed if they refused.

Federal prosecutors contend that the six were forced to work about 13 hours a day, seven days a week -- all for as little as 82 cents an hour.

Frosty Treats said in a statement that it admitted no wrongdoing and agreed to the settlement to resolve the matter.

Prosecutors said they accepted the deal to get the Russian students more money.

In 2006, federal prosecutors charged Carslake with felonies related to violating human-trafficking laws. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of retarding delivery of the mail -- for intercepting and withholding Social Security cards from the youths that could have allowed them to get other jobs.

Carslake apologized on Wednesday for holding the Social Security cards, but said he was not guilty of the more serious felony allegations.

Prosecutors said the Russians were promised $10,000 or more for the summer, plus travel and other benefits such as a house to be shared by three people.

Instead, they got two one-bedroom apartments for all six of them with nothing but mattresses on the floor, prosecutors said. They also had to pay to rent the ice cream trucks and pay for gas and were allowed to use a van only from work to the apartment.

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