Clipped From Lansing State Journal
Court starts jury selection in Washtenaw slavery trial ANN ARBOR (AP) Jury selection began today today in the U.S. District Court trial of a Washtenaw Washtenaw County family accused of keeping two mentally retarded men as slaves on their 406-acre 406-acre 406-acre farm near Chelsea. , : More than 100 prospective jurors crowded into the courtroom of Judge Charles W. Joiner as selections selections began for the trial of Ike Kozminsld, 60; his wife, Margarethe, 54; and their son John, 30. . The three are charged with two counts of involuntary involuntary servitude and one count of violating the civil rights of farmhands Robert Fulmer and Louis Molitoris. (THE KOZMINSKIS WERE turned down last summer in their request for Ingham County economic economic development money to build an egg-pro-- egg-pro-- egg-pro-- egg-pro-- egg-pro-- ducing factory near Stockbridge.) Conviction on the civil rights charges carries a maximum 10-year 10-year 10-year prison term and a $10,000 fine. Each slavery charge carries a maximum five-year five-year five-year prison term and a $5,000 fine. A fourth defendant, Michael J. Asam of Monroe, Monroe, faces identical charges, U.S. Attorney Leonard Leonard Gilman said Tuesday. Asam was arrested Jan. 13 by Monroe police on another charge, was turned over to the FBI and was being held in lieu of $10,000 bond, Gilman said. NO TRIAL DATE HAS been set for Asam, believed believed to be 29, said assistant U.S. District Attorney Attorney Virginia Morgan. State labor officials, meanwhile, plan to seek three years of back wages, totaling $101359.80, for the two men, a state Labor Department spokeswoman said Tuesday. The Kozminskis and Asam were named in a federal grand jury indictment issued Nov. 10. They are accused of forcing Fulmer, 57, and Molitoris, Molitoris, 59, to work on the Kozminskis' 405-acre 405-acre 405-acre farm near Chelsea for at least 11 years. THE INVESTIGATION initially began when neighbors contacted the sheriffs department in Washtenaw County," Gilman said. "They investigated investigated it and turned it over to the FBI." Investigators said the men, who received only $10 at Christmas and Easter, were forced to work 17-hour 17-hour 17-hour days, eat spoiled food and live in an unheated, run-down run-down run-down trailer without running water or toilet facilities. Fulmer began working on the farm in 1967 and Molitoris arrived in 1972, investigators sakL THE MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT of Social Services removed the pair from the farm in August August and placed them in foster homes. The state Labor Department last fall investigated investigated the case and determined the men were owed back wages, said Debbie Nolan a department department administrative assistant. State law only allows allows a claim for three years back pay, she said. The Kozminskis were required to respond to the claim by Jan. 20 but have not done so, Nolan said. The claim will be processed and turned over to the Michigan Attorney General's Office, she said.