The owner of a Lynbrook grocery store was temporarily detained Tuesday for refusing to provide records to the U.S. Department of Labor and to a federal judge as part of a civil investigation of the company’s pay practices, officials said.
Members of the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Joseph Rossi of Bay Shore, owner of Cross Island Fruits on Hempstead Avenue, for repeatedly failing to provide records to the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division as part of a yearslong investigation, officials said.
During an appearance Tuesday in federal court in Central Islip, U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione gave Rossi until Dec. 15 to produce the documents or risk an additional arrest, Labor officials said.
Rossi was then released on his own recognizance and the warrant was vacated.
“Joseph Rossi now knows that refusing to comply with a federal investigation can have significant consequences, including arrest,” said Jeffrey Rogoff, the department’s regional solicitor of labor 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.”
A message left with Rossi at his Lynbrook grocery store on Wednesday was not returned.
The Wage and Hour Division, which investigates if employees are paid the minimum wage and provided overtime, first requested the payroll records in August 2020, court records show.
Additional Labor Department requests for Rossi to provide the records, including through an administrative subpoena, were repeatedly ignored, court documents state.
In November 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Joan Azrack held Rossi in contempt and imposed a $250 per day fine until the subpoenaed documents were supplied, records show.
With Rossi still continuing to ignore the subpoena, the court last month ordered him to be arrested.
Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Mark Watson said his office must “have access to an employer’s records to determine if their pay practices and employment operations comply with federal law. Employers cannot avoid their legal responsibilities by refusing to cooperate with investigators and withholding records they request.”