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US convenience stores exploited immigrants from PH, Pakistan


Graphics depicting the locations of 7-Eleven stores involved in a federal indictment are shown after a news conference at the US Attorney’s office, Monday, June 17, 2013, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch has announced the indictment of nine individuals involved in a multi-state scheme to conceal the systematic employment of illegal immigrants and steal their identities. AP PHOTO/JOHN MINCHILLO

NEW YORK—Nine owners and managers of 7-Eleven convenience stores were charged Monday in a scheme to exploit immigrants from Pakistan and the Philippines, in part by paying them using the stolen Social Security numbers of a child and three dead people while stealing most of their wages.

Most of the defendants were arrested early Monday as federal authorities raided 14 franchise stores on Long Island, New York, and in Virginia. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were executing search warrants at more than 40 other stores across the US suspected of similar infractions, authorities said at a news conference in Brooklyn.

“These nine defendants created a modern-day plantation system, with themselves as overseers, with the immigrant workers as subjects, living in their version of a company town,” US Attorney Loretta Lynch told a news conference in Brooklyn.

Four defendants who hold both US and Pakistani citizenship belong to a family that has participated in social events with Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, prosecutors said in court papers as they highlighted foreign ties while successfully arguing against bail for most defendants. Another defendant is a citizen of the Philippines. The government said the defendants pocketed tens of millions of dollars in the scheme, hiding some money.

Federal indictments naming eight men and one woman allege that since 2000 they employed more than 50 immigrants who didn’t have permission to be in the U.S. They tried to conceal the immigrants’ employment by stealing the identities of about two dozen people—including those of the child, the dead and a Coast Guard cadet—and submitting the information to the 7-Eleven payroll department.

When 7-Eleven’s headquarters sent the wages for distribution, the employers stole up to 75 percent of the workers’ pay, authorities said. The defendants also forced the workers to live in houses they owned and pay them rent in cash, they added.

“This case came to light because some of these defendants, despite their lack of legal status, came forward to report the exploitation,” Lynch said.

Lynch said stolen identifications were “recycled from store to store and state to state” in a case driven by greed among defendants who bought big houses.

The government seized the franchise rights of 10 stores in New York and four stores in Virginia. The stores will remain open under the parent company’s operation. Authorities said the stores had generated $182 million in profits shared by the defendants and 7-Eleven.

7-Eleven statement

 

In a statement, 7-Eleven, Inc., said it has cooperated with the investigation and will take “aggressive actions” to audit the employment status of all its franchisees’ employees. It said it was also taking steps to assume corporate operation of the stores involved in the action.

Immigration officials detained 18 workers, including some who first notified authorities about the alleged fraud in 2010. Lynch said the workers would be processed through the system, with some who served as whistle-blowers being able to remain in the country while the case is prosecuted.

The defendants appeared in court on Long Island and Norfolk, Virginia, facing wire fraud conspiracy, identity theft and alien harboring charges. They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and other charges.

Three men arrested in Virginia were ordered held until a Thursday bail hearing.

Denies charges

Robert Del Col, attorney for Malik Yousaf, the general manager for 14 7-11 stores on Long Island, said his client denies the charges.

“To allege this systematic conspiracy, I don’t think it’s borne out in the documentary evidence,” he said after his client pleaded not guilty and was detained after an appearance in federal court in Central Islip. “These people came in looking for jobs.”

Those arrested also included a married Long Island couple who owned, co-owned or controlled  more than a dozen 7-Eleven franchise stores on Long Island and Virginia. The couple bought their first franchise license in 1988. Attorney Steve Politi, who represents Bushra Baig, said his client is a 49-year-old mother. “It’s nonsense,” he said of the charges against her. “I would be surprised if they can prove that she had any knowledge of enslavement. She doesn’t run anything.”

Jennifer Kwiecinski, 36, who lives across the street from an Islip Terrace store that’s part of the investigation, said she’s known the “always nice” owners since she was a child.

The government said the franchises were licensed by Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, which operates, licenses or franchises 49,000 convenience stores worldwide, including 7-Eleven stores in 16 countries.

The case reflects stepped-up enforcement against employers using bogus documentation for immigrant workers. In the past two years, federal authorities have brought similar charges against more than 500 business-owners and managers, said James Hayes, head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s New York office.

“There’s real teeth to these laws, and we’re using them now more than ever before,” Hayes said.

Hayes said the workers in the 7-Eleven cases were not innocent victims in the scheme but also were exploited by bosses who paid them a fraction of what they were owed for working up to 100 hours a week.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. also came under investigation in recent years for hiring workers who were in the country illegally. Last year, federal prosecutors charged a Minneapolis man who ran a company that provides labor to large poultry farms with transporting and harboring illegal immigrants.

Haeyoung Yoon, senior staff attorney for the National Employment Law Project, said that low-wage employers are more prone to not having the proper documentation for their workers. Once the fraud is exposed, the workers typically end up getting fired on the spot and sometimes deported, Yoon said.—Larry Neumeister with Frank Eltman on Long Island, Brock Vergakis in Norfolk, Virginia, Candice Choi in New York and Jon Gerberg


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Tags: 7-Eleven , Convenience Store , Pakistan , Philippines , US

  • Marx Louis Wang

    What a scam!!!

    • kanoy

      BEEN AROUND FOR DECADES–SOME AMERICANS HAVE 2-3 SSI # COMES IN HANDY AT TAX TIME–RETIREMENT TOO

  • bogli_anakdami

    at least, the flip gung gongs were used and abused doon sa ‘merka…

    di magsasampa si prez gung gong akin’o ng complaint dahil ang flip gung gong eh TNT…. bwi hi hi hi

    allah eh nasaan na ang flipland’s demand to inbestigeyt da abyus, di ba? yun lang…

    impeach Obama impits… impits…. yun lang…

    • nick

      ano kaya kasalanan ng parents mo at binigyan sila ng anak na tulad mo… tsk tsk

      • tonygadoy

        Yan kasi si boglit_anakdumi ay ’50 cents Party’ member yan. Sila ang mga Peoples Liberation Army internet warrior ng MOGOLOID commie chinese. Nasa war footing yan sila laban sa ating bansa. Propaganda war war.

      • Bernie Honrade

        Mukang nasumpa ang pamilya nyang si bogli anakdami … tignan mo naman pangalan pa lang e … pamilya na ng malilibog.

      • Don Dee

        Produkto ng incestous relationship yan kaya basag ang pula.

      • $44479964

        LOL.

      • pfckulapu_parin

        DakuUtin yung nanay mo ginawang comfort woman during japanese occupation noh at naging kabit ng instik. At intsik ang nagpalaki syo kaya loyal ka sa mga intsik…

    • tonygadoy

      boglit_anakdumi alam mo sa yabang ng mga MONGOLOID commie chinese na kagaya mo ay bantog na sa buong mundo na umi-epot sa mga public pools. At lahat na ng mga kabastusan sa buong mundo ay nasa inyo nang mga MONGOLOID commie chinese kagaya the great vandal of LUXOR in Egypt.

    • kanoy

      LOL THEY WHERE NOT USED OR ABUSED THEY WHERE TNT—IN USA YOU MUST HAVE SSI # TO WORK SO THEY CRUISE BONE YARDS LOOK FOR BABY WHO DIED NEAR THEIR BIRTH YEAR–COPY THE NAME AND BIRTH DATE FILL OUT A FREE FORM FOR AN SSI CARD TO THE STATE WITH $1-FREE SOME STATES-WAIT FOR MAIL MAN THEN GO TO 7-11 WHO PAYS THEM BELOW MINIMUM WAGE

    • muddygoose

      Senseless. Pangit.

  • akramgolteb

    Dapat ang pagasayahan ng oras ng mga Kano ay yung mga terrorist na tinangap nila bilang LEGAL IMMIGRANTS tapos binigyan pa nila ng green card at yung iba may US passport na. Tulad ng mga russo na nangbomba sa Boston Marathon at yung Nazi officer sa Minn.

  • Crysis_III

    Yung mga Pakistani puro pangloloko lang ang nasa isip.. Yung roommate ko nga nag quit sa 7-11 kasi sahod 250 a week, 8 hours/6 days a week. Grabe ang exploitation.

  • BakbakanNa

    Mag lolo na lang kayo mga koykoys!

    • tonygadoy

      BukbukinNa mag lolo na rin kayong mga MONGOLOID commie chinese na mga CREDIT CARD scammers sa BUONG MUNDO.. hA? 44 na ang nahuli sa inyo, Dito pa lang yan sa Pilipinas.

    • pfckulapu_parin

      Tanda na TANGA… Tuyo na UTAK mo…
      bakit iba na uli account mo…Bakit di mona gamit ang DakuUtin, AFPAKi,boglit_anakdumi, atbp.
      DAKILANG PATAY GUTOM…

  • $26149191

    Mabuti d mga tsekwa na NASA Container van galing mga workers nila. Daming d nakalusot na tsekwa sa immigration dahil may television sa likod este may TB.

  • Dayunyor Binay

    Pakistanis, Afghans,Sri-Lankans and some Indians are known worldwide for doing illegal activities..most of them are concentrated in big cities of the east coast United States ,UK, Canada ( New York, New Jersey,Virginia ,England ,Ontario particularly Toronto etc)….their businesses include buy and sell of Used cars that have undergone cosmetic repairs so that the car will look good and then modify the recorded mileage or auto repair shops that render ” doctored” emission test results for cash, falsification of accident records with the connivance of medical doctors and physical therapists in their community and then claim it against their insurance companies and the government ….

  • albert

    mga bobo kasi..
    dalawa lang klaseng tao sa mundo..
    manloloko at nagpapaloko..

    • muddygoose

      Hmm, so alin ka sa dalawa?



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