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Ohio woman pleads guilty in forced-labor case

Created: 11/22/2013 4:05 PM WHEC.com

(AP) YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - An Ohio woman accused of using ice cream to lure a mentally disabled woman and her child to captivity pleaded guilty Friday in a forced-labor case.

Dezerah Silsby, 21, entered the plea in U.S. District Court under the terms of a sealed plea agreement.

There was no immediate comment from her attorney in response to a request. The government wouldn’t say whether she had agreed to testify against her co-defendants.

The U.S. attorney’s office said she pleaded guilty to four counts of an indictment charging her with threatening the victim, beating her and making her do housework. Authorities say the ordeal lasted from early 2011 to late 2012.

Two other defendants face trial in February. A fourth has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate.

Attorneys for the two defendants facing trial didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

The FBI affidavit said Silsby smashed the woman’s hand with a rock so she could go to a hospital and bring back pain medication for the suspects.

The suspects forced the woman to cooperate by threats and physical abuse, federal prosecutors said. The woman told authorities she was made to do housework by the suspects, who she said raided her bank account and menaced her with snakes and pit bulls.

The woman and her daughter, who was 5, were freed after police investigated an abuse allegation one of the suspects made against her.

Police first got involved when the woman was arrested on a candy bar shoplifting case and asked to be jailed because people had been mean to her.

Authorities said the abuse allegation was a ruse, complete with a video staged by the suspects. They said the suspects had forced the woman to act as if she were mistreating her child.

The woman later pleaded guilty to child endangering and was sentenced in February to about five months in jail. She served only part of that sentence.



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