The wife of a Saudi prince charged with domestic servitude and forced labor of two Indonesian housekeepers was released from federal custody to her Winchester home yesterday after bail was set at $1 million in property in US District Court in Boston before an overflow crowd of supporters.
Hana F. Al Jader, 40, wept after US Magistrate Judge Joyce London Alexander ruled that she must turn over the deeds on two residential properties and a business, as well as her passport, to secure her future appearance in court.
Attorney James Michael Merberg urged Alexander to release Jader so she can care for her husband, Prince Mohamed Bin Turki Alsaud, who was paralyzed in an accident several years ago. She also provides home schooling to six teenage sons, he said.
Jader's husband uses a wheelchair and is unable to speak, Merberg said. He communicates by pointing to letters on a laminated sheet to spell out words.
''She is the sole care provider," Merberg said. ''There is no one else in this house."
Jader was indicted earlier this week on 10 counts of forced labor, domestic servitude, and other immigration offenses from February 2003 through November 2004. She is accused of withholding her servants' passports and work visas and threatening them if they did not work. She pleaded not guilty at her arraignment yesterday.
A federal prosecutor urged the magistrate judge not to release Jader, citing her significant wealth and frequent international travel as reasons why she could flee before trial. ''We are contending that she may well be able to leave the country," said Assistant US Attorney Theodore Merritt, citing a wire transfer of $350,000 from Jader's sisters in Saudi Arabia as evidence of the ease with which she can get money.
Jader faces at least eight years in prison if convicted, which Merritt said offers significant motivation for her to leave the country.
But Merberg said that Jader could have fled anytime since November, when federal investigators searched her Winchester house, alerting her to the probe.
''She certainly would have . . . gone long, long ago," Merberg said.
Jader entered the courtroom wearing sandals, her ankles shackled. She sat forward in her seat for most of the proceedings, her hair tucked back in her black leather jacket.
Asked by Alexander if she swore to answer truthfully, she answered barely above a whisper, ''I do."
Merberg also offered the court a letter of support from the Saudi consulate in New York. Two representatives of the consulate were in the courtroom but declined to comment.
Jader is president and treasurer of H&A International Inc., according to Merberg, which is housed in a Medford condominium building with numerous other companies, including A.N.Y. Corp., run by business associate Ammar Chamo, according to town records.
Alexander allowed Jader's release, and gave her until Tuesday to turn over the deeds to the Winchester property, which is technically owned by Chamo, and another house in Arlington. The government could seize the properties as well as a Canton business she co-owns with Chamo, a relative, if she violates any court orders.
One supporter who said his mother is close friends with Jader said he found it shocking that she would be charged with mistreating her housekeepers -- identified as ''Tri" and ''Ro" in court documents.
''There's no way I can believe that she abused them," he said. ''She's a wonderful person . . . she never uses any bad words, ever."
According to the indictment, Jader also drew up a phony work contract and submitted it to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services to get visa extensions for the workers. Prosecutors say she claimed in the documents that the housekeepers were each earning $1,500 a month and working fewer than eight hours a day. Prosecutors allege, however, the workers toiled for far longer and earned only $300 a month.
Scott Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com.