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BERKELEY, CA-Nine Indian women filed a class action lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court this week against a major Berkeley property owner already serving an eight-year prison term for bringing young Indian girls into the country for sex and cheap labor.

The lawsuit was filed today against the wealthy landowner, Lakireddy Bali Reddy, his sons Vijay Kumar Lakireddy and Prasad Lakireddy, his brothers Jayaprakash Reddy Lakireddy and Venkateswara Reddy Lakireddy, and family businesses. The defendant’s lawyers did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The suit alleges that for more than a decade, Reddy, 65, engaged in an international conspiracy “to exploit, to enslave, and to abuse young Indian women for illegal and immoral, yet highly profitable purposes.”

Michael Rubin, the San Francisco attorney representing the plaintiffs, says the lawsuit seeks $100 million in damages. Rubin says women in the current suit were allegedly lured to the United States with false promises of employment.

The lawsuit seeks to go after the Reddy family’s estimated $70-million in assets–include an estimated one-third of the Berkeley apartment market–by invoking a combination of state and federal statutes, including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, the attorney says.

Lakireddy Bali Reddy pleaded guilty in March 2001 to conspiracy to import Indian nationals in violation of immigration laws, two counts of bringing girls into the United States for illegal sexual purposes, and one count of filing a false tax return. In June 2001, he was sentenced to eight years in federal prison and ordered to pay $2 million in restitution to several victims.

That case was first uncovered after two teenage girls allegedly brought from India by Reddy were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes in one of Reddy’s apartments on Nov. 24, 1999. One of the girls died and the other recovered.

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