Long Island Grocery Owner Arrested by Federal Marshals

He allegedly ignored court orders and demands for records in a federal probe.

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CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. – The owner of a Lynbrook grocery store believed they could ignore requests from the U.S. Department of Labor and a federal court in New York to cooperate with an investigation of their company’s pay practices. 

When the U.S. Marshals Service arrested and took Joseph Rossi into custody on Dec. 5 for repeatedly failing to provide information to the department’s Wage and Hour Division as part of a compliance investigation, the owner of Cross Island Fruits found out how wrong this belief was.

“Joseph Rossi now knows that refusing to comply with a federal investigation can have significant consequences, including arrest,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York. “Rossi’s arrest shows the U.S. Department of Labor is committed to using every available and appropriate legal tool to gather the facts, enforce the law and make sure employers do not hold the law in contempt.”

Although the department issued an administrative subpoena to obtain documents to determine if the pay practices of Rossi’s business complied with the Fair Labor Standards Act, the employer refused repeatedly to supply the subpoenaed documents. In response, the department’s Office of the Solicitor took the following actions in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York:

  • Obtained a court order finding the store’s owner in contempt and assessing $250 per day in fines until they complied.
  • Obtained a Nov. 17, 2023, court order for the U.S. Marshals to arrest Rossi and detain him until the court orders discharge from custody. 

“The Wage and Hour Division must have access to an employer’s records to determine if their pay practices and employment operations comply with federal law,” explained Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Mark Watson Jr. in Philadelphia. “Employers cannot avoid their legal responsibilities by refusing to cooperate with investigators and withholding records they request.”

Cross Island Fruits is a grocery store located at 246 Hempstead Ave. in Lynbrook, New York.

The FLSA requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than time and one-half the required rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

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