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7-Eleven Franchisee Gets Prison Time for Exploiting Illegal Aliens

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — A former convenience store operator will be spending the next seven years behind bars after pleading guilty to committing wire fraud and concealing and harboring illegal aliens.

Farrukh Baig was sentenced to 87 months in prison following his Sept. 22 plea in connection with illegal workers at his 7-Eleven Inc. franchise stores located throughout Long Island and Virginia. He was sentenced at the federal courthouse in Central Islip.

The sentence was announced by Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Raymond R. Parmer Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York Field Office (HSI); Joseph A. D'Amico, Superintendent, New York State Police; Edward Webber, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police; and Irv Miljoner, District Director, United States Department of Labor.

"Using the 7-Eleven brand in our neighborhoods, the defendant exploited his alien employees, stealing their wages and requiring them to live in unregulated boarding houses. He now faces time in prison for not only systematically employing illegal aliens, but also for concealing their employment by stealing the identities of children and even the dead," Currie said. "We are committed to preserving the rule of law and protecting our communities from the abuses of corrupt businesses seeking to gain illegal advantage. I would like to thank our partners at HSI, New York State Police, Suffolk County Police and the United States Department of Labor for their hard work on this important and ongoing investigation."

According to court filings and facts presented in court, the defendant owned, managed and controlled 14 7-Eleven franchise stores during the course of the conspiracy. He hired dozens of illegal aliens, equipped them with more than 20 identities stolen from U.S. citizens, housed them at residences he and his co-conspirators owned, and stole substantial portions of his workers' wages. During the scheme, the defendant generated more than $182 million in proceeds from the 7-Eleven franchise stores, according to a government release.

"Today's sentencing holds Farrukh Baig accountable for knowingly stealing identities to hire and employ an illegal workforce. He also stole more than $2.6 million from his overworked and underpaid employees," said Parmer Jr. of Homeland Security Investigations. "This case serves as a stern reminder about the consequences facing employers who exploit illegal alien labor and violate our nation's laws." 

This is one of the largest criminal alien employment investigations ever conducted by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to the prison sentence, the court entered an order forfeiting the defendant's rights to 10 7-Eleven stores in New York and four 7-Eleven stores in Virginia, as well as five houses in New York worth more than $1.3 million. The court also ordered Baig to pay $2.5 million in restitution for the back wages.

Baig is one of five people who pleaded guilty to exploiting undocumented immigrant workers in connection with a federal probe into alleged illegal immigration-related activities. The other defendants are Malik Yousaf, Bushra Baig, Shahnawaz Baig and Zahid Baig, as CSNews Online previously reported.

On June 16, 2013, federal officials seized 14 7-Eleven stores in Long Island and Virginia, charging nine owners and managers of harboring and hiring illegal immigrants and paying them using fake social security numbers. The alleged illegal conduct had gone on since at least 2000, federal authorities claimed.

The federal probe eventually expanded to include 26 additional convenience stores in seven states.

The government's case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorneys' Office Business and Security Fraud Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher A. Ott is in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Assistant U.S Attorneys Brian Morris and Elliot M. Schachner of the Office's Civil Division, which is responsible for the forfeiture of assets.

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