The owner of several 7-Eleven franchises throughout Virginia and Long Island, including the one in Sag Harbor, was sentenced to more than 7 years in prison this week after pleading guilty to a scheme involving wire fraud and the housing and employment of illegal immigrants.
Farrukh Baig, 58, of Head of the Harbor was sentenced to 87 months in prison Monday morning in federal court in Central Islip following his guilty plea in September to committing wire fraud and concealing and harboring illegal aliens employed at 14 different 7-Eleven stores that he owned, 10 of which were on Long Island, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Since 2000, Mr. Baig and three others employed more than 50 illegal workers at the 7-Eleven franchises that they owned and submitted payrolls to the convenience chain corporation using more than 20 stolen identities, authorities said. The defendants also housed the immigrants in homes that they owned as they worked them up to 100 hours per week while paying them for only up to 30 hours. According to the release, the defendants also stole wages from the workers, making more than $182 million from the scheme.
In addition to his jail sentence, Mr. Baig was ordered to forfeit his rights to the 14 7-Eleven stores he owned, as well as five houses on Long Island, worth a total of $1.3 million, where the illegal immigrants were housed. Mr. Baig was also ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution for the wages he stole from the workers.
Mr. Baig’s wife, Bushra, as well as Malik Yousaf of South Setauket, and Zahid and Shannawaz Baig, both of Virginia, also pleaded guilty to the charges in September. Ms. Baig was sentenced to three months in custody, which she served, and the other defendants are scheduled to be heard on June 25 at the courthouse in Central Islip, according to Nellin McIntosh, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice.
The four defendants were all arrested in June 2013 after an extensive joint investigation by State Police, Suffolk County Police, the U.S. Department of Labor and the New York field office of Homeland Security Investigations.
In response to a request for comment on the sentencing, Margaret Chabris, director of corporate communications for 7-Eleven, said the Department of Justice press release “says it all.” The case is described in the release as “one of the largest criminal alien employment investigations ever conducted by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.”
“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,” Acting United States Attorney Kelly T. Currie said in the press release. “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.”
“This case serves as a stern reminder about the consequences facing employers who exploit illegal alien labor and violate our nation’s laws,” added Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent-in-charge at the New York field office of Homeland Security Investigations, in the same release.