SAN FRANCISCO – A Ukiah restaurant owner pleaded guilty Tuesday to tax evasion and harboring illegal aliens for profit, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
Yaowapha Ritdet, 56, of Ukiah, admitted she knowingly hired Thai nationals who were illegally present in the United States to work at her restaurants, Ruen Tong Thai Cuisine and the Walter Café, both located in Ukiah.
Ritdet further admitted she underpaid employees and instructed them not to speak to anyone about their immigration status. Ritdet also admitted she willfully filed false individual income tax returns for 2007 through 2011, failing to disclose income received from her two restaurants, as well as rental income and a foreign bank account. She also admitted failing to accurately report employment taxes for her restaurant workers, who were paid in cash.
Ritdet is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 22, 2017.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch commended the HSI and the IRS-CI special agents who investigated the case; the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which identified the underpayment of wages and overtime; and the case prosecutors, trial attorney Charles A. O’Reilly, with the Department of Justice’s Tax Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose A. Olivera