SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Niskayuna business owned has been sentenced for labor trafficking. The Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office said Piyamas Demasi, 45, the owner of recently closed Thai Thai Bistro and Karma Bistro, was sentenced to five years probation.
On March 11, Demasi pleaded guilty to labor trafficking, which was the top count of a 13-count indictment. Demasi is accused of hiring an immigrant woman from Thailand to work at Thai Thai Bistro. She then tricked the woman into believing she would sponsor her visa as an expert Thai chef so that she could receive a permanent U.S. resident status.
The DA’s Office said Demasi was aware these conditions were illegal, but told the woman she would only sponsor her if she agreed to pay all associated costs Demasi claimed with the visa process. The woman then would have to work for Demasi for two years after the visa process was complete.
After the woman agreed and made payments, Demasi allegedly made her work as a waitress. She then stopped paying her wages, forcing her to live on just her tips. Demasi demanded the woman pay her an extra $10,000 for sponsoring the visa application.
The woman stopped working for Demasi in January 2018 after being forced to work without wages or tips. Demasi would only pay the woman in cash. Authorities further alleged Demasi did not report her on payroll or employment filings made with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
“Labor trafficking is an assault on basic human dignity. It deprives the government of taxes owed and confers an undeserved competitive advantage on the perpetrator. For these reasons, cases such as this deserve and will continue to receive commitment of prosecutorial resources,” said District Attorney Robert Carney.
Thai Thai Bistro closed at the end of April. The Thai Thai Bistro Team sad intends to open a store in Saratoga Springs in 2023, but it will be an Asian grocery store that will sell both Thai food and Karma food.