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A grand jury in Pennsylvania is to convene today to consider a case against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in which the world’s largest retailer is accused of using illegal workers to clean floors in its stores. U.S. Assistant Attorney Wayne Samuelson, whose office in Williamsport, Pa., is handling the case, said the grand jury would meet but he would not discuss details of the case. “All I can say is it’s going to be a long investigation,” Samuelson said Wednesday. “Don’t anticipate anything (Thursday) afternoon or in the next couple of weeks.” Grand juries meet in secret and can hand up indictments. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams said Wednesday that the company was bound by federal rules surrounding grand jury secrecy and could not comment. Earlier, the company acknowledged it was the target of the investigation. Janitorial companies hired by Wal-Mart were at the center of a 21-state sweep of 60 stores on Oct. 23. About 250 workers from 18 countries were arrested, and 10 of them were employed by Wal-Mart itself. Some of the workers have sued the Bentonville-based company alleging that it conspired with the contractors to create a criminal enterprise that violated the civil rights and wage protections of immigrants who cleaned its stores. The lawsuit in federal court in New Jersey seeks class-action status for perhaps thousands of immigrants hired by companies that clean floors for Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has said federal prosecutors told the company it was the target of a probe into whether it broke immigration laws by having contractors that employed illegal workers. Wal-Mart has not been charged with a crime. In the raids, the office of an executive at the Bentonville headquarters was searched and federal agents carted away boxes of files. Arrests were made in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Wal-Mart, which employs about 1.1 million people in the United States and 300,000 in other countries, had sales last year of $244.5 billion. The company has 1,494 discount stores, 1,386 Supercenters, 532 Sam’s Clubs and 56 Neighborhood Markets in the United States. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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