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All charges dropped against recruiter accused of trafficking, exploiting migrant workers

Last Updated Dec 11, 2019 at 5:29 pm EDT

Liwayway (Lily) Miranda outside the courthouse at 361 University Avenue after all charges against her were dropped on Wednesday, December 11, 2019. Michael Talbot/CityNews

Human trafficking charges have been dropped against the former owner of a company that recruited migrant workers after the Crown conceded on Wednesday that it didn’t have the evidence to secure a conviction.

In May 2018, Liwayway (Lily) Miranda, the owner-operator of A&L Hammer Workforce Management in Toronto was one of three people charged by the Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA) in an alleged scheme to traffic and exploit Filipino workers.

The owner-operator of Sharon Mushroom Farm in Sharon Ont., Laxman Marsonia, was also charged with human trafficking-related charges. A third person, Yatin Bera, of Richmond Hill, was charged with two counts of misrepresentation.

Charges against all three have now been withdrawn.

Miranda was in court on Wednesday, flanked by supporters she previously recruited to work at the farm in Sharon.

While she celebrated the withdrawal of the charges, she said her reputation and finances have suffered, and she says she’s planning to sue the government for damages.

Miranda says she was forced to close her business and spent large sums on legal representation.

“Financially, emotionally, spiritually I was really destroyed,” she said. “Even now the case is finished, but it will never be the same.”

“How many people have I helped to come here to Canada? Hundreds,” she maintained.

As the Toronto Star reported, in March 2019 Miranda was ordered in small claims court to repay fees she charged migrant workers to secure jobs at the farm in Sharon.

“(Her company) provided immigration services that they are not legally entitled to provide or charge for,” the judge wrote in his decision.

With files from the Canadian Press