A couple arrested last month for harboring illegal immigrants pleaded not guilty during their arraignment this afternoon.
Amrutlal and Dakshaben Patel had been formally charged by a federal grand jury on four counts of knowingly and willfully housing undocumented Indian nationals, and forcing them to work in four Lexington Subway restaurants.
A three-month investigation began after a manager of the Patels’ restaurants said "bad things were happening" to his employees.
If convicted, the Patels could serve up to ten years behind bars with three years of supervised release, along with $250,000 in fines.
Their attorney says they were simply trying to live up to the teachings of their Hindu faith by helping people from their native India.
The Patels are currently free on bond, but they must follow certain conditions regarding their travel and personal contact.
The couples’ jury trial has been set for March 3rd.
The future of their workers remains unknown.