SCHENECTADY, NY (NEWS10) — A Niskayuna business owner pleaded guilty to labor trafficking before a judge in Schenectady County Court on Friday. Piyamas Demasi, 45, owner of Thai Thai Bistro and Karma Bistro, pleaded guilty to one count of thirteen counts.
According to the indictment, Demasi hired an immigrant from Thailand to work at his Thai Thai Bistro restaurant. Demasi tricked the woman into thinking she would sponsor her visa as an expert Thai chef so she could receive permanent resident status in the United States.
Demasi knew these terms were illegal, but told the woman she would only sponsor her if she agreed to pay all fees associated with the visa process. Moreover, the woman should agree to work for Demasi, two years after the end of the visa process.
After the woman agreed and made the payments, Demasi got her to work as a waitress. She then stopped paying the woman’s salary, forcing her to live solely on her tips. Demasi asked the woman to pay her an additional $10,000 for her efforts in sponsoring the visa application.
The woman quit working for Demasi in January 2018 after being forced to work without pay or tip for some time. Demasi would only pay the woman in cash. Authorities further alleged that Demasi failed to report the job on his payroll or employment filings with the New York State Department of Taxation.
Officials said Demasi admitted that between June 2017 and June 2018, she intentionally hired the victim by intentionally defrauding services to be indebted at work. In pleading guilty to labor trafficking, Demasi agreed to a range of sentencing options to be imposed by Schenectady County Court Judge, the Hon. Mark J. Caruso.
- Two counts of labor trafficking (felony)
- One count of grand larceny in the third degree (felony)
- Five counts each of first degree, offering false instrument of deposit (felony)
- First degree forgery of business documents (felony)
Demasi is expected to be sentenced on May 20. According to officials, under the agreement, the maximum sentence that can be imposed is 1 to 3 years in state prison, in addition to probation once she is released. In addition, the Court has the power to impose an additional sentence of local imprisonment and probation.