Local 7-Eleven owner gets seven years in federal prison

aw enforcement officials outside the Cutchogue 7-Eleven during an immigration sweep in June 2013. (Credit: Cyndi Murray, file)
Law enforcement officials outside the Cutchogue 7-Eleven during an immigration sweep in June 2013. (Credit: Cyndi Murray, file)

The former owner of 7-Eleven stores in Cutchogue and Greenport will serve 87 months in a federal prison for harboring illegal aliens and stealing their wages, according to the U.S. Attorney General’s office.

U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Feuerstein sentenced Farrukh Baig, 59, of Head of the Harbor to 87 months in federal prison in a Central Islip courtroom Monday. Mr. Baig, who was indicted following a June 2013 federal raid on a series of 7-Eleven stores across Long Island and Virginia, had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and concealing and harboring illegal immigrants last September.

Federal prosecutors said Mr. Baig along with his wife, two brothers and a another co-conspirator hired dozens of illegal aliens, equipped them with 25 stolen identities from United States citizens, housed them and then stole substantial portions of his workers’ wages. They called Mr. Baig the ringleader of the scheme.

The group docked millions in pay from the immigrants’ wages and then had them pay rent to the owners of the 7-Eleven stores, prosecutors said. Employees sometimes worked more than 100 hours per week, but were paid as if they had only worked for as little as 25 hours, according to the Attorney General’s office.

“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,” Kelly T. Currie, acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.  “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.”

In addition to prison time, the court ordered Mr. Baig to forfeit his rights to the the 7-Eleven stores in New York and four 7-Eleven stores in Virginia, as well as five houses in New York worth more than $1.3 million, according to a statement.

Mr. Baig will also have to pay $2.6 million in restitution for the back wages that he stole from his workers, according to the Attorney General’s office.

His wife, Bushra Baig, 51, pleaded guilty to harboring illegal aliens in September. She was sentenced to three months in prison, but was released on time served, according to Newsday.

Mr. Baig’s brothers — Zahid Baig, 52, of Chesapeake, Va. and Shannawaz Baig, 62, of Virginia Beach, Va. — along with co-defendant Malik Yousaf, 51, of South Setauket, also pleaded guilty. They had helped to “manage and control the stores,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Yousaf face the potential of up to 20 years in prison, while Shahnawaz and Zahid Baig could each face up to 10 years imprisonment when they are sentenced, according to a previous Suffolk Times article.

Mr. Baig’s sentence marks an important milestone in the government’s ongoing investigation, which is already one of the largest criminal alien employment investigations ever conducted by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, prosecutors said.

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