Santa Clarita Restaurant Owner Accused of Enslaving, Assaulting Cook for 3 Years

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A Santa Clarita restaurant owner was expected to appear in court Thursday after being arrested for allegedly enslaving a cook and physically assaulting him for three years, officials said.

L.A. County Sheriff's Department provided this image of Pardeep Kumar, 47,  who was arrested on suspicion of mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, involuntary servitude and human trafficking.

L.A. County Sheriff's Department provided this image of Pardeep Kumar, 47, who was arrested on suspicion of mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, involuntary servitude and human trafficking.

Pardeep Kumar, a 47-year-old man from Newhall, was detained after investigators contacted the victim Tuesday at a restaurant in the 3300 block of Valencia Boulevard, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department stated in a Wednesday news release.

Kumar was subsequently arrested for alleged mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, involuntary servitude and human trafficking. 

While at the restaurant, identified by the Los Angeles Times  as Tandoori Grill, investigators located the victim, who claimed he had been forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week for three years without pay.

Kumar was also accused of physically assaulting the man, not allowing him to communicate with the outside world and forcing the victim to live at his Newhall home, the Sheriff’s Department news release stated.

“We believe the suspect took his passport, which limited victim’s ability to leave the country and return to India,” Sheriff’s Department Capt. Merrill Ladenheim said.

Since the victim was not familiar with America, he did not know how to navigate its legal system, he said.

“(He) was very, very powerful in keeping him a prisoner in the suspect’s house,” Kadenheim said.

The investigation began after the victim’s brother emailed the Sheriff’s Department, the Times reported. The brother, who lives in Mumbai, India, was reported to have been contacted by a fellow employee at the restaurant.

Kumar was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail, and was scheduled to appear in the court Wednesday.

Anyone who witnessed incidents related to the investigation were asked to contact the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station at 661-255-1121.