Nine Individuals Indicted; 14 7-Eleven Stores Secured In Federal Probe

Last week, two indictments were unsealed charging eight men and one woman from Long Island, N.Y., with conspiring to commit wire fraud, stealing identities, and concealing and harboring illegal immigrants employed at 7-Eleven franchise stores located throughout Long Island and Virginia.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York, the defendants, who owned, managed and controlled 14-Eleven franchise stores during the course of the conspiracies, allegedly hired dozens of illegal immigrants, equipped them with more than 20 identities stolen from United States citizens, housed them at residences owned by the defendants and stole substantial portions of their wages. If convicted, the defendants will face 20 years’ imprisonment on wire fraud conspiracy and alien harboring charges, as well as multiple counts of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive two-year term of incarceration.

In addition, all property used to facilitate the harboring of illegal immigrants, together with all proceeds of the wire fraud conspiracy and alien harboring charges, are subject to forfeiture.

The indictments, arrests and seizures are the result of one of the largest criminal immigrant employment investigations ever conducted by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. The government has moved to forfeit the franchise rights to 10 7-Eleven stores in New York and four 7-Eleven stores in Virginia. In the indictments, the government has also moved to forfeit five houses in New York worth more than $1.3 million.

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Three Major Soda Cos. Pledge To Reduce Calories In Products

Last week, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr. Pepper Snapple pledged to cut beverage calories consumed per person in the United States by 20 percent by 2025, through a mix of marketing, distribution and packaging.

The voluntary plan, backed by the American Beverage Association (ABA) and announced at the Clinton Global Initiative, is generally seen as tacit recognition by the companies of their role in the American obesity crisis. As part of the plan, the three major soda manufacturers plan to broaden the availability of low- and zero-calorie beverages as well as drinks sold in smaller sizes. The agreement will also apply to 3 million company-owned vending machines and coolers in convenience stores, as well as fountain soda dispensers at fast-food restaurants. Each beverage company will also provide calorie counts and promote calorie awareness. The companies plan to heavily promote their bottled water products, which have become a larger portion of total sales as soft drink sales have declined in recent years.

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VERC Buys Former Rectory At Stonehill College

VERC Enterprises, Duxbury, Mass., recently completed renovations on the former Rectory adjacent to Trinity Academy in Brockton and has partnered with Stonehill College to facilitate a graduate curriculum under the auspices of the Stonehill College Service Corps program.

The building at 42 Wendell Ave. in Brockton, now known as the Community House at Trinity, was purchased by VERC Enterprises from the Archdiocese of Boston in the fall of 2013. VERC Enterprises subsequently renovated the building and has leased it to Stonehill College. The college serves as Catholic advisors to Trinity Academy, and for the past two years has partnered with Trinity as part of its Service Corps program, sending recent graduates to work with Trinity and with inner-city residents.

Prior to VERC Enterprises’ purchase and renovation of the 12-bedroom building, there was no housing for these Service Corps students. “Our goal was to put this once active rectory to good community use,” said Leo Vercollone, VERC Enterprises president, noting that the inspiration for the Community House came from his parents, Margaret and Eugene Vercollone.

The reading room will be dedicated Wednesday, Oct. 1, when Trinity Academy, VERC Enterprises and Stonehill Service Corps will host a celebration from 12 to 2 p.m.

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Latest Word in C-Store News...

Pabst Brewing has been an American company since 1844 and will continue to be an American iconic brand with its headquarters in the U.S., according to Pabst Brewing Co. Pabst said the future owners of Pabst, Eugene Kashper, TSG Consumer Partners and Cyprus-based Oasis Beverages, are deeply committed to Pabst’s future as an American company.

• Pine State Trading won top prize as “Exhibitor of the Year” at the 2014 Vermont Retail and Grocers Association (VRGA) Convention and Expo, held at the Champlain Valley Exposition Sept. 9-10. The award is based on overall attractiveness, creativity and presentation of the exhibit booth.

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