SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney announced Tuesday that a Schenectady County Grand Jury has indicted Piyamas Demasi, 45, owner of Thai Thai Bistro and Karma Bistro in Niskayuna, N.Y., in a thirteen count indictment.
Demasi was arraigned Tuesday and has been charged with the following:
- Two counts of Labor Trafficking (Class D felony)
- One count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (Class D felony)
- Five counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (Class E felony)
- Five counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (Class E felony).
Court documents allege that Demasi hired a female immigrant from Thailand to work in the kitchen of her restaurant Thai Thai Bistro. Demasi reportedly paid the woman “off the books” and in cash. After she was hired, Demasi allegedly proposed sponsoring the woman as an expert Thai chef through a visa process that would result in a green card, which would give her permanent lawful status in the United States.
However, Demasi would reportedly only do it if the woman paid for all of the costs associated with the visa process and continue to work for Demasi for two years after the process was finished—all of which is illegal.
Court documents allege that after the woman made initial payments toward the visa process, Demasi made her work as a server, not as a chef as Demasi had represented in the visa application, and stopped paying her wages altogether, forcing her to live off of tips alone.
After this time, Demasi allegedly made the woman pay for legal bills related to the visa process, and it is further alleged that Demasi then requested an additional $10,000 for her efforts in sponsoring the woman’s visa application. Demasi reportedly then made the woman work solely in the kitchen without tips or wages.
The woman quit working for Demasi in January 2018 based on the $10,000 demand and Demasi’s failure to pay her any wages while she worked in the kitchen without tips, according to court documents.
During the woman’s employment at Thai Thai Bistro, Demasi allegedly paid her in cash and failed to report her as a worker on her payroll and employment filings made with New York State authorities, in an attempt to hide her employment and avoid any related taxes owed to New York State.
“This case initiated with a complaint to the Niskayuna Police Department. Detective Mark Florell and now retired Detective Paul Hobson got our office involved. Substantial assistance was provided by Special Agents from the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant District Attorneys John Carson and William Lemon then presented the case to a Grand Jury,” said District Attorney Carney. “I commend all of them for their efforts to bring light to the defendant’s despicable behavior in allegedly exploiting the services of this young woman. 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.”