For Immediate Release - May 11, 2012

Boston Man Sentenced to Jail for Child Labor Violations

Defendant Hired Underage Children to Solicit Funds in the Boston Area Unattended

BOSTON – A Boston man pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to jail on charges his organization violated Massachusetts child labor laws by hiring children to solicit funds unattended, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

“Hiring underage children is both against the law and an unacceptable form of exploitation,” AG Coakley said.  “The defendant illegally hired children to solicit money while left unattended on the streets and in parking lots.”   

Roderick Pendleton, age 48, pleaded guilty to child labor violations (8 counts).  After the plea was entered, Dorchester District Court Judge Michael Coyne sentenced Pendleton to serve 30 days in the House of Corrections, deemed served (for incarceration while awaiting trial on other charges), followed by 18 months supervised probation.  As part of his probationary terms, Pendleton was ordered not to employ children in any capacity, nor to engage in any type of charitable fundraising activities unless duly registered with the Attorney General’s Public Charities Division and in conformity with all regulatory requirements.  He is ordered to pay restitution to the affected children in an amount to be determined at a later date. 

 Pendleton employed six underage children in the operation of his purported organization the “International Teenster Union, Inc.” (ITU).  On multiple occasions from November 2009 through August 2010, Pendleton left the children unattended on the streets of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Boston, to solicit cash donations from the public for ITU, a purported charitable organization to benefit children with HIV, AIDS, and cancer. 

The children solicited for money on behalf of ITU from motorists stopped at traffic lights and from shoppers in the parking lots of various chain stores, among others.  The children also sold various items such as flowers and candy in exchange for donations.  At the time of the incidents the children ranged in age from eight to 14

Under Massachusetts law, with certain exceptions (such as babysitting), children under the age of 14 cannot be employed.  Children over 14 may be employed, but state law restricts their employment in regards to both hours and type of occupation. Before beginning work, minors over 14 must also obtain a work permit.

Pendleton was arraigned on December 7, 2011 in Dorchester District Court where he pleaded not guilty and was released on $500 bail.  Pendleton pleaded guilty on May 7, and was sentenced to jail.  Pendleton is scheduled for trial on June 25, in Boston Municipal Court on other child labor charges and for filing a false corporate report.

For more information regarding the Massachusetts Child Labor Laws, please visit the Attorney General’s website.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Karla E. Zarbo of AG Coakley’s Fair Labor Division, and investigated by members of the Boston Police Department (BPD), including BPD’s Human Trafficking Unit, headed by Sgt. Detective Donna Gavin, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Child Protection Team, the federal Department of Labor’s Inspector General, and Fair Labor Division Inspectors Ed Minchello and Jeffrey Mahoney, along with assistance from Attorney General Victim Witness Advocate Nikki Antonucci.           

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