Ferenc Domotor was the picture of a successful immigrant: He lived in an ample new suburban home, ran a small business and raised four children in his adoptive country.
But Mr. Domotor's wealth had a dark source. He was the kingpin of a large human-trafficking ring that lured men from his native Hungary with promises of a better life, only to make them work long hours for no pay on construction sites across Ontario.
In the latest of several prosecutions related to Mr. Domotor's criminal organization, its leader received nine years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to traffic humans – the toughest sentence ever handed down for the crime. He received concurrent sentences for participating in a criminal organization and lesser immigration offences. With credit for time served and his guilty plea, Mr. Domotor has 4 ½ years left to serve.
His 21-year-old son, Ferenc Domotor Jr., pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced to five years in prison. After deductions, he will serve a year and four months. The elder Mr. Domotor's wife, Gyongi Kolompar, was sentenced to time served for welfare and immigration-related offences.
The court cannot order the three deported because they are landed immigrants in Canada; that decision will be left up to federal officials. The trio came to Canada in 1998 as Roma refugees. The elder Mr. Domotor and Ms. Kolompar have three daughters, aged 9 to 18; Ferenc Jr. has two small children of his own.
A heavyset man dressed in black with a receding hairline, the elder Mr. Domotor seemed upbeat as he entered court, smiling and winking at relatives in the public gallery. At one point, he even offered a friendly greeting to RCMP Constable Lepa Jankovic, who led the investigation that sent him to prison.
He shook his head often as Mr. Justice Stephen Glithero summarized his crimes.
"This country has a long tradition of respecting human rights and dignity, and providing assistance to those who need it, and welcoming those from other countries," the judge said. "When our values are abused flagrantly, as they were by these three individuals, we are offended. Modern-day slavery is disgusting to us and it offends our core values."
All three apologized to the court and to the country in general. But their words rang hollow to former worker Tamas Miko.
"I don't care that they apologized," he said outside court. "I just want the money back that I worked really, really hard for."
The case, which has seen 12 convictions – including eight for conspiracy to traffic in persons and 10 for participating in a criminal organization – is by far the largest proven human-trafficking case since Canada introduced the charge to the Criminal Code in 2005. Among those convicted are two of Mr. Domotor's younger brothers, his cousin and various in-laws.
Crown attorney Toni Skarica, the lead prosecutor on the case, spoke briefly outside court to offer credit to the team – RCMP investigators Ms. Jankovic and Husam Farah, and fellow Crown attorney Valerie Gillis – who had made the case.
Editor's note: An earlier headline on this story indicated that Ferenc Domotor was involved in human smuggling. Mr. Domotor was, in fact, involved in human trafficking. The current headline is correct.