SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Friday, a Niskayuna business owner pleaded guilty to labor trafficking before a judge in Schenectady County Court. Piyamas Demasi, 45, owner of Thai Thai Bistro and Karma Bistro pleaded guilty to a top count of a thirteen-count alleged indictment.
According to the indictment, Demasi hired an immigrant woman from Thailand to work in her restaurant Thai Thai Bistro. Demasi duped 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.
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. Additionally, the woman would have to agree to work for Demasi, two-years after the visa process was complete.
After the woman agreed and made payments, Demasi made her work as a waitress. She then stopped paying her wages altogether, forcing her to live on just her tips. Demasi demanded the woman pay her an additional $10,000 for her efforts in sponsoring the visa application.
The woman stopped working for Demasi in January 2018 after being forced to work without wages or tips for a period of time. 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.
Officials said Demasi admitted that between June 2017 and June 2018, she engaged the victim by means of intentionally defrauding services to be indebted to her by labor. In pleading guilty to labor trafficking, Demasi has agreed to a range of sentencing possibilities to be imposed by Schenectady County Court Judge Hon. Mark J. Caruso.
- Two counts of labor trafficking (felony)
- One count of third-degree grand larceny (felony)
- Five counts each of First-degree, offering a false Instrument for filing (felony)
- First-degree falsifying business records (felony)
Demasi is scheduled to be sentenced on May 20. Officials said under the agreement, the maximum sentence imposed is three years in state prison, with probation upon release. In addition, the court has the authority to further impose a sentence of some local jail time with probation.