No. 10 Top News Story: Raid shuts down 7-Elevens

CYNDI MURRAY FILE PHOTO | Law enforcement officials outside Cutchogue 7-Eleven.
CYNDI MURRAY FILE PHOTO | Law enforcement officials outside Cutchogue 7-Eleven.

One of the U.S. Department of Justice’s largest criminal immigrant employment investigations to date found its way to Southold Town in June.

The federal sting led to the arrest of Cutchogue and Greenport 7-Eleven owner Farrukh Baig, who along with eight others, conspired in a multi-state scheme involving identity theft and the employment of illegal immigrants, authorities said.

Customers were turned away as federal agents seized the Main Road stores early Monday June 17.

Mr. Baig, 57, of Head of the Harbor, and his wife, Bushra, 49, owners of a dozen 7-Eleven locations, including two franchises in Southold Town, were among the nine suspects arrested as part of the nationwide investigation, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said.

The defendants stole identities from 25 victims ranging from 8 to 78 years old, including three deceased people, and assigned them to illegal immigrants working in the stores, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The false information was then submitted to 7-Eleven’s corporate headquarters, where wages were issued to compensate the illegal immigrants, prosecutors said. But the nine defendants took “significant portions” of those wages, always paying immigrant employees in cash, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Employees worked 100 or more hours per week in some cases but were paid for as little as 25 hours in a week, making between $350 and $500 for their time, prosecutors said.

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Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top 10 news stories of 2013. Check back every day until Jan. 1 to follow along.