Feds set sights on house

CONCORD – A Litchfield couple convicted of forced labor charges now face efforts to seize their home and assets.

The government is seeking to seize Timothy Bradley’s home, business including equipment and more than $100,000 in cash. A lawsuit charging civil rights violations has also been filed against the couple.

Bradley and O’Dell were convicted last year of 18 charges related to forced labor and wire fraud. They each received two sentences of 60 and 70 months that will run concurrently.

The charges, which included document servitude, wire fraud, trafficking in forced labor and forced labor, resulted from a program in which O’Dell and Bradley on two occasions brought a total of five workers from Jamaica to work for Bradley’s Tree Service and live on the couple’s property.

The couple was accused of holding the workers’ passports, paying them less than they promised and assaulting David Hutchinson and Andrew Flynn.

The defense argued that the men were told they would make $8 an hour, and that some of the issues stemmed from conflicting job-site expectations.

The government is seeking to seize Bradley’s home, equipment his business used, such as a chipper and stump grinder, and about $119,300.

A separate suit by Andrew Flynn and David Hutchinson charges the couple with civil rights violations and seeks an unspecified amount in compensation.

“I’m not surprised by either of the filings by the government and the purported victims,” said Andrew Cotrupi, O’Dell’s lawyer.

Bradley’s lawyer, Steven Gordon, said he intends to vigorously respond to the civil forfeiture and civil case.

Bradley and O’Dell are appealing their convictions.

The federal forced labor statutes call for forfeiture, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Rabuck.

Any items seized could result in more money being available for restitution to the victims, Rabuck said. The couple was ordered to pay restitution to the four men equaling about $13,052.

The civil forfeiture case is separate from the criminal cases against Bradley and O’Dell. Even if their sentences were overturned, it would not affect forfeiture efforts, Rabuck said.

“It really makes no difference if the convictions stand,” Rabuck said, noting, “The government fully expects the convictions to stand.”

Typically in forfeiture cases, the property is turned over to the federal marshal’s service, which liquidates the assets and deposits the money in a federal forfeiture fund. The victims may petition for a share of the funds, Rabuck said.

In their suit, Flynn and Hutchinson claim that they suffered depression due to their treatment and received counseling. “They continue to be affected by the psychological trauma inflicted upon them by the defendants,” the suit states.

Four of the workers testified during O’Dell and Bradley’s trial that they were told in Jamaica that they would make $11 an hour. However, when they arrived, they were only paid $8 an hour.

The civil suit claims that Flynn and Hutchinson were never told or shown how their hours were recorded and that their paychecks did not indicate the number of hours worked. Some weeks that they worked 40 hours they made $210 and $226, less than $5.65 an hour, according to the suit.

Shortly after arriving, Hutchinson said that he wanted to go home, but was told in order to leave he would have to repay the airfare, which was about $1,000. The couple knew that he would not be able to pay them back on his wages, so their request had the effect of forcing him to remain in their employment, the suit states.

The suit also argues that the men lived in crude conditions, did not have access to a fully functional bathroom, and were denied medical treatment.

The couple was also accused of assaulting the men after Litchfield police investigated a complaint of workers being held against their will. When the men returned after being taken to the police station, some of their belongings, including a television, were broken. Other items, such as clothing and compact discs they bought to take home, were missing, the suit states.

The men are seeking a sufficient amount to compensate for their pain, said David Bassett, a lawyer with Hale & Dorr. The Boston law firm is handling the case for free.

Neither man wants to do this, Bassett said of the suit.

“The criminal conviction gave them some satisfaction and helped compensate them to some small measure for the indignities they suffered,” he said, adding later: “They’re looking for some appropriate monetary compensation for the harm inflicted upon them.”

Anne Lundregan can be reached at 594-6449 or lundregana@telegraph-nh.com.