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Reddy case could get new defendants

By Justin Pritchard Special to the Daily Planet
Wednesday September 13, 2000

OAKLAND – A federal judge did not hear motions Tuesday to dismiss some of the charges against Berkeley landlord Lakireddy Bali Reddy and his son accused of sex and immigration offenses.  

Instead U.S. District Court Judge Sandra B. Armstrong gave the prosecution the time it requested to add new defendants to the case. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kennedy would not specify how many more defendants he would name, but did tell Armstrong that the charges against them would be similar to those against Reddy and his son, Vijay Kumar Lakireddy.  

The pair allegedly brought three Indian women to the Bay Area on special high-tech worker visas and then kept them for Reddy as sexual objects and menial laborers at his Berkeley restaurant, Pasand Madras Cuisne.  

Lakireddy is charged with filing the false visa applications that enabled his father to import the women.  

Kennedy said he would present any new indictments by Oct. 5. 

Reddy appeared in Armstrong’s marble and wood paneled courtroom to ask that the judge dismiss two of the nine charges against him.  

His lawyer, Ted W. Cassman, has argued that charges he imported the women “for immoral purposes” is too vague to be constitutional and in any case do not apply to Reddy’s alleged acts because any sex with the women was consensual. 

But Cassman never formally presented that argument because of Kennedy‘s request to delay the process so he could finish his investigation.  

Armstrong granted the delay and asked both parties to return Oct. 10 to schedule further appearances, when the substance of the case will be discussed. 

The events were anticlimactic for a case that made national news in January, when Berkeley police arrested Reddy and charged him with bringing two young women – said to be minors – from India for the purpose of having sex with them.  

Still, a group of protesters, present at all the court hearings on the matter, objected to the attempt by Reddy’s attorney to remove any charges. 

“Any sexual activity that may have occurred between Reddy and the immigrant women needs to be recognized and named as sexual assault,” said Shaily Matani, a member of the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action. “Reddy is wealthy, well-connected, and controls the workers’ immigration and employment status. It is not possible to truly give consent to someone who holds your entire livelihood in their hands.” 

Reddy arrived in the Bay Area from India more than 40 years ago to study engineering at UC Berkeley and stayed to become Berkeley’s wealthiest landlord, with 1,100 apartment units reportedly worth $70 million. He is free on a $10 million bond.