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PHOENIX -- Three people were arrested Wednesday after an identification theft raid, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said.

The raid was conducted at East Valley Disaster Services, a restoration business specializing in water, smoke and fire damage repair. MCSO said it received information that as many as 22 people had used false documents to obtain employment.

"This owner cooperated," Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in the release. "Business owners in similar situations should do the same to stem the tide of this type of illegal activity."

The owner of EVDS, Stuart MacLay, said he did not hire any illegal immigrants.

"All of them were E-Verified," he said, referencing a program that screens employee information to detect identification theft.

MacLay said the raid was frustrating and he had to pull employees from work sites.

"It may have been a bad tip, a disgruntled employee or something like that. Someone we've let go, perhaps."

But Arpaio said the proof is in the numbers.

"When he's saying what he did, that's his opinion. But we have proof. We had seven employees that did not have proper ID."

Three suspects have been charged with identification theft and forgery. Arpaio said one escaped.

The sting is the 75th such operation conducted by MCSO.

Sandra Haros , Reporter

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