CHICAGO -- The young Indian actress arrived at O'Hare International Airport last Christmas Eve on a flight from Abu Dhabi.
Carrying a temporary visa, she told customs agents she had come to the U.S. to attend an Indian association event at the behest of her manager and would be staying only a couple weeks.
But federal prosecutors say that story was a ruse concocted by the actress' manager. And he wasn't helping her with her film career -- he was her pimp.
Recently unsealed federal charges accuse a Chicago couple of Indian descent of running a high-end prostitution ring to lure actresses from Tollywood -- a nickname for the lively Telugu-language film scene in southern India -- to the U.S. and advertise them for sex at Indian conferences and cultural events across the country.
The ring charged clients up to $3,000 for each sexual encounter, according to a 42-page criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
While here on temporary visas, at least five actresses were sometimes forced to stay in a dingy, two-story apartment building in Chicago's Belmont Cragin neighborhood waiting for their next "date," the charges alleged. They also met clients in hotels at conferences in Dallas, New Jersey and Washington.
The prostitution scheme was allegedly masterminded by Kishan Modugumudi, 34, an Indian businessman who rose to become a player in the Tollywood movie industry and co-produced several hit films.
The complaint alleged that Modugumudi threatened the life of one of the actresses and her family if she told law enforcement the truth about what she did while in the country.
Modugumudi told the woman, identified in the charges only as Victim A, that "it would be nothing for him to harm her if she talked to the police about him because she is small and unknown, not a big actress," the complaint alleged. "(He) further stated he had a copy of her passport with her family's name and address in it."
Also charged was Modugumudi's wife, Chandra, 31, who allegedly kept detailed ledgers of the sex acts performed by each girl, including where they occurred and how much they collected.