Win the Battle Against Ex-Store Owner
From El Diario
November 6, 2003
By Izadeli Montalvo
A group of immigrants won the first battle against the ex-owner of
the defunct supermarket Extra Met yesterday, after alleging that
he had exploited them and leaving them jobless when the store closed
New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced
in a press conference that the accused, Rafael Montes de Oca, is
of not paying salaries and not paying the minimum wage to his former
employees, the majority of which were Dominicans.
Calls to the
office of Lawyer Robert Fierdman, legal representative of the accused,
had not been answered at the close of this edition.
is not usual in this type of case, the authorities were able to
obtain sufficient evidence to justify cause.
“The immigrants are abused, and they are imprisoned so others
can easily take advantage of them. They are victims of discrimination,” said
Spitzer. “Not only are we going to try to recoup the money
that these workers are owed, but we are going to prosecute with
criminal charges,” added the State Attorney General.
of ten victims came together with the Solicitor and New York State
Senator Eric Schneiderman to publicly denounce the presumed
conditions under which they tried to earn their money.
“He spoke down to us, and humiliated us because he knew that we needed
the work,” said Sofie Guzmán, mother of a family in
Manhattan who functioned as a packer for the supermarket for three
Guzmán said that she only earned money from tips that
clients gave her voluntarily, and that the obligations of her job
work like cleaning, for which she was not paid.
“I felt bad. I had to work from 8 in the morning to 9 at
night to earn around 30 dollars,” said the woman, a 52 year-old
mother, now unemployed.
The majority of the complaints signaled
that the workers were working
between 12 and 13 hours daily for 250 dollars a week, a salary
much below that which is required by state labor laws.
on the part of the ex-employees were that Montes de Oca now has
a new business under the name Exito Foods, whose
owner René Caraballo, apparently rented the old premises
where Extra Met operated, at 547 138th Street.
has been confirmed by the office of the State Attorney General,
according to spokesperson Maritere Arce.
A supervisor of Exito
Foods, who declined to identify himself, said in a telephone interview
that Carabello is out of the country,
that he doesn’t know Montes de Oca.
The accused appeared
before Judge Martin Murphy in the Criminal Court of Manhattan,
where he declared himself innocent of the charges.
If found guilty,
he will be get a minimum of two years, and have to pay restitution.
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Translated from Spanish by Charlotte