Dead teen girl in Reddy Controversy was pregnant  

Source: San Jose Mercury News; March 8, 2000

A girl whose death from carbon monoxide poisoning sparked a federal case against a prosperous Berkeley landlord was newly pregnant when she died, according to the county coroner's office.

The girl, who went by the false name of Seetha Vemireddy, allegedly was bought from poor parents in India and brought to the United States illegally by Lakireddy Bali Reddy, who authorities say used her for sex.

The girl was between seven and 10 days pregnant when she died, according to a Stanford University lab that conducted tests for the Alameda County Coroner's Office. The test results came in last week.

Reddy, 62, faces a number of charges, including the illegal import of aliens for immoral purposes. He is free on a $10 million bond and living in Merced while awaiting trial.

The investigation into Reddy was prompted by an anonymous letter police received after the girl was found unconscious -- along with her 15-year-old sister -- at the Reddy-owned Berkeley Park Apartments in November.

While the teen's death was ruled accidental, caused by an improperly ventilated gas heater, authorities soon uncovered an alleged scheme that included procuring phony visas for young women so they could work in Reddy's businesses and have sex with him.

Reddy's son, Vijay Kumar Lakireddy, 30, also faces immigration charges stemming from the alleged plot. He is free on a $500,000 bond.

According to the autopsy report, investigators found a tiny mass growing in the girl's uterus. The Stanford consultants said the mass is consistent with a new pregnancy.

The legal implications of the girl's condition are not clear. Also unclear is whether the girl knew she was pregnant when she died.

Because the federal charges focus on the alleged immigration violations, and sex with a minor is not a federal crime, the pregnancy would not appear to have a large effect on the government's case against Reddy and his son.

The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on the test results.

The state has not brought any charges against the men, but Berkeley police said they will submit the results of their investigation to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for review.

Berkeley police said DNA testing on the fetal tissue could yield important clues, but did not say whether they have ordered such tests.

Reddy's attorney, Ted Cassman, did not return repeated calls seeking comment.

One thing clouding the case for prosecutors is that the girls' ages have never been conclusively established because of a lack of documentation.

For example, prosecutors have said the dead girl was 16, while coroner's records show she was 17, and Reddy himself has said he believed she was over 18.