“The work of State investigators often goes unnoticed by California’s citizens, but it is their investigations that keep California on good financial ground so services can be provided. This investigation showcases the year-round work that is done to investigate and prosecute business owners who evade taxes and workers’ comp premiums.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
On October 7, 2021, Chaturonk Ngamary Jr., one of the owners and operators of multiple Thai Original BBQ restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco Counties was sentenced for his role in a scheme to evade taxes and workers’ compensation insurance premiums.
From 2011 through 2016, Ngamary Jr. failed to report more than $7.5 million in sales to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) and more than $2.9 million in wages to the Employment Development Department (EDD).
Ngamary Jr. was sentenced to two years in prison, which will be suspended if he successfully completes two years of probation, including 180 days on work release. Prior to sentencing, Ngamary Jr. paid $1,540,962.02 in restitution to CDTFA, EDD, and multiple insurance carriers. The restitution includes total sales and payroll tax liability, unpaid workers’ compensation insurance premiums, the cost of the investigation, and interest on unpaid tax liabilities.
“When a business fails to pay taxes and workers' compensation premiums, they harm their employees and impact the state’s ability to fund public services for our communities,” said Attorney General Bonta. “As the owner of multiple restaurants in California, the defendant failed to meet his obligation to the people of California and his employees. Thank you to all our partners for collaborating to investigate and hold the defendants in this case accountable for their actions.”
In December 2019, Ngamary Jr. and Ngamary Sr. were charged with 57 and 51 counts, respectively, of evading the payment and reporting of $977,836.36 in sales tax, payroll tax, and workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Ngamary Jr. pleaded guilty in August 2020 to sales tax evasion, possessing sales suppression software, failure to pay payroll taxes, and also admitted to the white-collar crime enhancement under Penal Code section 186.11(a)(2).
- Sanjutha Hantanachaikul, the owner and operator of one Thai Original BBQ restaurant, was also charged with nine counts of evading the payment and reporting of $3,575.82 in payroll tax and workers’ compensation insurance premiums. In August 2020, Hantanachaikul pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and was sentenced to three years of summary probation. Before she was sentenced, she paid $6,751.29 restitution, which included the total payroll tax liability, interest on the unpaid tax liability, and workers’ compensation insurance premiums.
- Chaturonk Ngamary Sr., who co-owned the restaurant with his son Ngamary Jr. and is alleged to have participated in the crime, has fled the country and is currently residing in Thailand.
This investigation was conducted by the California Department of Justice (DOJ), the CDTFA Investigations Bureau, the EDD Investigations Division, and the California Department of Insurance Fraud Division. The DOJ, CDTFA, and EDD are part of the multiagency Tax Recovery in the Underground Economy (TRUE) Task Force, which also includes the Franchise Tax Board. The TRUE Task Force was created to ensure multiagency collaboration and to combat wage theft, tax evasion, and other crimes in the underground economy. The task force consists of attorneys, investigators, and special agents from the member agencies.
A copy of the complaint is available here.