(ICE photo)

7-Eleven Franchisee Pleads Guilty to Harboring Illegal Aliens

Following an investigation by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and subsequent prosecution from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), Yong Min Choe, 55, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conceal and harbor illegal aliens by employing them at his 7-Eleven franchise in Brentwood, New York. When sentenced, Choe faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment as well as a fine of up to twice the value of the gross gain. Additionally, Choe agreed to forfeit more than $1.3 million in assets that represent proceeds of the offense.

In March 2004, Choe began operating the 7-Eleven store in Long Island and agreed to abide by state and local labor laws. Between 2004 and November 2019, Choe hired individuals who did not have authorization to work in the United States and allowed those employees to use false social security numbers and other personal identifying information. As a result, Choe was able to pay his employees sub-standard wages and enrich himself.

“Over the course of 15 years, Choe knowingly hired individuals who had no legal authorization to work in the U.S., then took advantage of their illegal status by paying them inadequate wages with long hours,” stated Peter C. Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of HSI New York. “HSI and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting our communities from the abuses of corrupt business owners seeking to gain an illegal advantage and make a steep profit off the backs of others.”

“The defendant conveniently used his convenience store to harbor and exploit alien employees and steal wages,” stated United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue. “This Office, together with our law enforcement partners, is committed to vigorously enforcing immigration and labor laws that protect our borders as well as the workplace.”

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