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9 Indicted in 7-Eleven Sting

Stores shut down as part of alleged alien harboring, identity theft scam.

Credit: Lisa Finn
Credit: Lisa Finn
Authorities on Monday indicted nine people from New York and Virginia – including a South Setauket man – for smuggling illegal immigrants into the country and forcing them to work long hours for minimal pay at several Long Island 7-Eleven stores. 

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, of the Eastern District of New York, announced the indictment of nine people Monday, in one of the largest criminal immigrant employment investigations ever conducted by the Department of Justice. 

"We've all seen them, they are part of the roadside scenery of America. They are instantly recognizable to anyone who has run out to buy cigarettes or taken a road trip," Lynch said. "But inside this familiar red, green and orange-striped facade, beside the coffee and the Big Gulps, a decidedly un-American practice was going on inside the stores we've targeted today."

Lynch said that Farrukh Baig, of Head of the Harbor, along with his wife Bushra and six others, including South Setauket resident Malik Yousaf, were allegedly involved in a scheme to force illegal immigrant labor to work long hours in their 7-Eleven franchises, skirting labor laws by using stolen identities to mask the actual time their workers spent on the clock.

7-Eleven stores in Cutchogue and Greenport owned by Baig were shut Monday as part of the raid.

Compounding the crime, Baig then paid the illegal workers a fraction of their actual earnings and forced them to live in housing Baig and his family owned in exchange for rent taken out of their meager cash-only pay.

Baig owned eight 7-Eleven franchises across Long Island, including two locations in Smithtown – including the brand new store on Terry Road, and one each in Islip, Selden, Sag Harbor, Greenport, Nesconset, Cutchogue and Port Jefferson Station.

A similar but unrelated scheme was allegedly being perpetrated at the same time by 7-Eleven franchise owners Azhar Zia, who remains at large, and his partner Ummar Uppal. They owned 7-Eleven stores in Huntington and Islip Terrace.

The franchise owners were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, identity theft and harboring and concealing illegal aliens.

The scheme started to crumble in 2010 when a handful of the undocumented workers could no longer tolerate the conditions and reported Baig and his wife to the state police.

Special Agent James Hayes, of Homeland Security, said that 40 other 7-Eleven locations would be investigated on Monday, including 25 in the New York City area, in an attempt to discover how widespread the practice could be.

Lynch and Hayes both said that the corporate offices of 7-Eleven were cooperating with the investigations, and that no locations would be shut down

The defendants face 20 years in prison on wire fraud conspiracy and alien harboring charges, as well as multiple counts of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory, consecutive two-year term.

Across the North Fork, residents reacted to the news with shock. "It's unbelievable -- they used Gestapo tactics," said Jack Gismondi of Peconic. "They're bullies. All they were missing were the Jackboots."

"'They stormed in," said Gismondi's wife Chris.

One resident, John, of Greenport, who asked that his last name not be used, said he'd heard the news early Monday. "I didn't know what the heck was going on," he said. "But it's good that they caught them."

Others outside the Southold 7-Eleven had not yet heard of the raids.

Additional reporting by Lisa Finn, Joseph Pinciaro and Matt Hampton.
forward thinking June 17, 2013 at 01:19 PM
about time they enforced the law - and they should have had jack boots. next the freeloading illegals
Rich from the East End June 17, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Why did this take so long? Please identify how much sales tax they cheated us out of. I assume they cheated on everything. Shop at Karen's in Cutchogue and support a law abider.
Charles Chan June 17, 2013 at 01:51 PM
But will they still be able to vote with the phony id ?
David D'Agostino June 17, 2013 at 02:28 PM
All of you who blindly use any article to bash undocumented workers, try actually reading what is going on here before making such stupid and irrelevant commnets. This is not about undocumented workers standing at 7-11 looking for work. This is about what basically amounts to modern day slavery. Federal authorities told ABC news that at least 18 undocumented workers, reportedly from Pakistan, were given identities stolen from children and deceased persons and forced to work 100 hours a week while paying rent to their employers to live in boarding houses. These are not workers who came here on their own, but were BROUGHT here with stolen indentities and forced into slave labor.
john langan June 17, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Wow, i worked there for a year after my father sold the store and he had access to my SS#, kinda makes me nervous
forward thinking June 17, 2013 at 05:40 PM
talk about stupid - I did not know they were documented.. and I am sure they paid their taxes... and voted liberal all the way... I do not want to bash undoc workers I just want them to support all the liberal views with money "honey". and stop clogging up the welfare system etc....
Robert June 17, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Mr David D , of course its not about the undocumented worker bashing. There is more to it then you see. Pakistan? , Muslim? , Homeland security? I am smelling terrorists! Of course the Government will never tell us the truth in fear of public panic.
Patricia Scholl June 17, 2013 at 06:11 PM
I often wonder what else is going on right under our noses? Are we that naive?
Bernie K June 18, 2013 at 08:23 AM
Bottom line: What goes around comes around. Mr. Baig has a history of girlfriend assault. Also, a friend of mine worked for him in Cutchogue and burned her arm on his (not maintained) coffee maker years ago. Baig's first move? He fired her. His second move? He claimed she hurt herself "on purpose!" and tried to deny her injuries and unemployment claim, since she was "lazy." She had to sue him. He lives in Head of the Harbor? How nice. Time to teach him the American way of justice, from the inside. Shame on him! Hope the people who ratted him out get some amnesty. It must have taken some courage, facing deportation or worse, to turn in this monster.
Pam Ferrari June 18, 2013 at 08:40 AM
Thank you/david-dagostino for explaining to all of our simple neighbors that this is not about the foreign.born workers who have been forced in to slavery but about the owners and managers who are criminals. I am embarrassed and ashamed that this happens in my country.
cyn f June 18, 2013 at 08:46 AM
I will not shop there anymore. Boycott 7-11
Debra June 18, 2013 at 10:19 AM
This is a disgrace! No one has the right to bully, blackmail or use anyone no matter what!! We should treat everyone with the same respect we all deserve. I hope the owners go to jail for a long time. Don't know how these people can look at themselves in the mirror and sleep at night. Crazy...
sally manwaring June 18, 2013 at 03:55 PM
I think we all have our own opinions about Immigration with that said this is not about that , this is some low life that was given a golden opportunity in this country something most of us will never get and totally ruined it! Also to treat other human beings like that is totally unacceptable and deplorable !!! No one deserves that but the owners managers or others that did this ! I commend those employees for being brave and reporting this to the proper authorities and hope that they get some sort of restitution for what they endured.
Charles Chan June 18, 2013 at 05:56 PM
does anyone think the evil owner's greed would only motivate him to bring in illegal workers and exploit them with stolen phoney id's and that he would NEVER get $$$ by bringing other illegals into the country with phoney id's nor apply with the id's for government benefits for those not eligible nor cheat on the sales tax nor use substandard ingredients or outdated food? The fact this was allowed to go on so long shows the porousness of our border securtiy.
Patricia Scholl June 18, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Human trafficking is one of the oldest trades in the world. It all comes down to $$$$$$.
Retired June 19, 2013 at 06:24 AM
With the present administration in Washington soon all these undocumented illegals will be legal and all this fuss will cease to exist . No more people will be waiting in front of the 7-11 looking for work. They will be home waiting for their check in the mail.

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