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Valencia restaurant owner accused of slavery, beating employee

Santa Clarita Valley restaurant owner arrested on suspicion of slavery after email from India

An Indian national who was employed at a Valencia restaurant endured three years of slavery -- including regular beatings -- and was so scared of his boss that he feared for his life if he ever tried to escape, authorities said Wednesday.

READ THE UPDATE: Prosecutors decline to file charges

The victim's boss, 47-year-old Pardeep Kumar, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of human trafficking and holding a person in involuntary servitude, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Capt. Merrill Ladenheim.

The victim, a 55-year-old man whose identity was not released, came to the U.S. three years ago to work as a chef at Tandoori Grill, Ladenheim said.

After confiscating the chef's passport, Kumar beat his employee with a 2-foot-long piece of steel and a 3-foot-long metal mop handle, Ladenheim said. 

The chef also worked seven days a week, about 12 to 14 hours each day, authorities said. He was barred from contact with the outside world, and he allegedly was forced to live in Kumar’s Newhall home.

"He was demoralized over quite a lengthy time," Ladenheim said. "He was extremely terrified."

Investigators learned about the alleged abuse through a chain of communications that spanned halfway around the globe.

A fellow employee at the restaurant informed the chef's brother in Mumbai that his brother was enduring sustained abuse, authorities said.

On Tuesday, the brother in Mumbai sent an email to the county sheriff's department. Later that day, Kumar was arrested and the chef was hospitalized for treatment.

Kumar is being held on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

The victim is planning to stay in the U.S. to assist in the prosecution of Kumar but plans to return to India, authorities said.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno and @JPanzar.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

10:30 p.m.: This story was updated throughout with additional details.

This story was originally published at 5:35 p.m.

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