The immigrants were forced to live in the basement of Malinek’s home, which federal agents said was “deplorable” with mold, cockroaches and sewage backup, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Malinek allegedly threatened to turn the immigrants in to authorities if they didn’t comply.
Malinek’s defense attorney, Raymond Pijon, said during Thursday’s hearing that Malinek was simply trying to help the immigrants, many of whom are relatives of hers. He said she spent her own money to fly them to the United States and put her home at risk by letting her stay there.
“There was a lot of good heart behind that,” Pijon said, “because she knows what’s happening in Guatemala.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole ordered Malinek into federal custody and denied her bond, saying her flight risk was “quite enormous.”
Malinek could be facing a maximum of 20 years per count in this case, WGN-TV reported.