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`Hearing Man' admits a role in peddling scam

The man known to dozens of deaf Mexicans as "the Hearing Man" admitted to a scheme in which he and others smuggled the immigrants into this country and made them peddle trinkets on subways and streets.

Alfredo Rustrian Paoletti, 37, one of two among the 20 indicted who can hear, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to recruit, smuggle, transport and keep prisoner the deaf Mexicans. Raul Alanis, 25, pleaded guilty to the same charges.The scheme, in operation since 1993 in New York and other cities, earned upward of $1 million a year, federal officials say. It was exposed when four deaf Mexicans fled their "workhouse" in Queens in July and told police about their plight.