7-Eleven Manager Gets Four Years in Immigrant Labor Scheme

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By John Herzfeld

The chief manager of five 7-Eleven Inc. franchise stores in New York and Virginia has been sentenced to four years in prison on charges stemming from a scheme to use stolen identities to hide the systematic hiring of dozens of immigrants not authorized to work in the U.S., prosecutors announced ( United States v. Baig, E.D.N.Y., No. 2:13-cr-00351, 12/14/16 ).

Malik Yousaf of South Setauket, N.Y., was one of six defendants in a case resulting from one of the largest criminal employment probes of its kind ever undertaken by the government. All have pleaded guilty to joining in a scheme to harbor unauthorized workers in employer-owned housing, cloak their presence with stolen identities and cheat them of wages owed.

Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, at sentencing Dec. 14, ordered Yousaf to forfeit his rights to eight 7-Eleven stores in New York and ten 7-Eleven stores in Virginia, as well as a Long Island residence worth more than $150,000, prosecutors said.

The court also ordered Yousaf to join the other defendants in paying $2.6 million in restitution and damages for wages skimmed from dozens of workers. The government’s conservative estimate of the unpaid wages was $1.26 million.

Forfeiture Record Set

The forfeiture amount was the largest recorded in any immigration case brought by the Justice Department and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit. It wasn’t clear Dec. 15 whether ICE has similar cases in the pipeline.

While declining to comment on any continuing or pending probes, an ICE spokeswoman told Bloomberg BNA that the agency “has developed a comprehensive work site enforcement strategy that promotes national security, protects critical infrastructure and targets employers who violate employment laws or engage in abuse or exploitation of workers.”

Workplace investigations “remain a priority” and are pursued by the ICE Homeland Security Investigations Worksite Enforcement Unit, she said.

The defendant identified as the ringleader in the case, Farrukh Baig, was sentenced in April 2015 to an 87-month prison term. Sentences for the other four defendants ranged from 16 months to time served, according to court records.

Yousaf pleaded guilty in September 2014 to charges of committing wire fraud and concealing and harboring illegal aliens.

A defense attorney for Yousaf didn’t respond Dec. 15 to a request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Herzfeld in New York at jherzfeld@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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