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LONG ISLAND, N.Y. — Five people have pleaded guilty to exploiting undocumented immigrant workers more than a year after a federal probe into alleged illegal immigration-related activities resulted in the seizure of several 7-Eleven convenience stores in Long Island and Virginia.
Farrukh Baig, Malik Yousaf, Bushra Baig, Shahnawaz Baig and Zahid Baig pleaded guilty to wire fraud and concealing and harboring illegal immigrants Monday at the federal courthouse on Long Island, according to a Newsday report.
Prosecutors said the defendants hired illegal immigrants and used stolen IDs to cheat the workers out of more than $2.6 million in wages.
The defendants agreed to forfeit their franchise rights to 10 7-Eleven stores in New York and four in Virginia. As part of the guilty plea, the defendants also agreed to forfeit five houses they own. The homes are valued at more than$1.3 million.
Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. stated: "[On Monday], the Justice Department announced it had secured guilty pleas for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to harbor illegal immigrants for financial gain from former, independent 7-Eleven franchisees. 7-Eleven Inc. has cooperated fully with the government's investigation of this matter for more than three years."
The retailer added, "Good, hardworking franchisees are the backbone of the 7-Eleven brand. The defendants who admitted their guilt [Monday] violated federal law and also the trust that 7-Eleven placed in them as franchisees under the franchise system. 7-Eleven will not tolerate this conduct in its franchisees and will continue to cooperate with federal authorities in this matter."
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, as CSNews Online previously reported. 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.