Transcript for Franchisees Accused of Worker Exploitation
Now to those serious charges against 7-eleven. Dozens of stores, the target of a federal investigation for bringing undocumented workers into the u.S., Forcing them into virtual slavery. Abc's rebecca jarvis is on the case. She joins us now from one of the stores sized by the feds on long island. Good morning, rebecca. Reporter: Hi, george. Good morning and this is 1 of 14 stores police have seized from franchise owners under the management of 7-eleven corporation and this morning, the probe continues to widen. The accusations of cruelty and mistreatment now span independently owned 7-eleven stores in eight states from illinois to florida to new jersey, so far nine owners and managers from pakistan and the philippines arrested for running what the feds are calling modern-day plantations. The franchise owners that we have charged were engaged in a pattern of fraud and worker exploitation. Reporter: Authorities say the owners were making millions of dollars exploiting illegal immigrants for more than a decade forcing them to work 100-hour weeks but paying them for just a fraction of their time. They were even allegedly made to LIVE IN 10x10 ROOMS INSIDE Cramped boarding houses. It was a terrible environment for these employees and they were ruthlessly exploited by the franchise owners. Reporter: All the while investigators say the alleged ringleader and his wife were living in this mansion. In order to evade authorities and 7-eleven corporate policies, police say the illegal workers were given stolen identities, even from people who had died. POLICE SAY I.D.s INCLUDED Everyone from a coast guard cadet to an 8-year-old child. The employees were threatened when they complained which was rare with the threat of deportation with the threat of job loss. Reporter: Police have not implicated 7-eleven corporation but say the company lacked adequate checks and balances in its payroll department. In a statement to abc news, the company says it's cooperating with authorities and will take aggressive actions to audit the employment status of all its franchises' employees. And if convicted, the accused could face up to 20 years in prison. The undocumented workers' future is less clear but authorities say in some cases the workers could be deported, robin. All right, rebecca, thank you very much.
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