PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A restaurateur, charged in federal court following an investigation into forcing human labor and a falsifying data on visa applications, pleaded guilty to the charges on February 15.
Paul Jumroon, who also goes by the name Veraphon Phatanakitjumroom, is charged with one count each of visa fraud conspiracy, forced labor and making and subscribing a false federal income tax return.
In between the time he was charged and pleaded guilty, Jumroon sold the businesses he owned. Jumroon is scheduled to be sentenced May 24 and faces up to 20 years in prison.
The charges were filed on Jan. 24, 2018 in U.S. District Court in downtown Portland. On February 15, Jumroon pleaded guilty to federal charges of forced labor, visa fraud conspiracy and filing a false income tax return. He agreed to pay the victims a combined $131,391.95 for their unpaid labor.
According to the charging documents, starting in June 2012 and continuing through October 2013, in Oregon, Jumroon “did knowingly provide and obtained, and attempt to provide and obtain, the labor and services” of a person identified only as “P.T.”
Jumroon reportedly used means of serious harm and threats of serious harm toward P.T., according to court documents.
It’s also alleged that Jumroon used the abuse and threatened abuse of law in a plan intended to “cause P.T. to believe that, if he did not perform such labor and services, he would suffer serious harm.”
Starting in 2011, continuing through August 2015, Jumroon “and others, known and unknown, knowingly and intentionally conspired and agreed with each other and with others” to obtain and receive “E-2 nonimmigrant visas for entry” into the United States while knowing the visas had been obtained “by means of false claims and statements.”
The E-2 nonimmigrant visa program allows a national of a treaty country to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
It is alleged that Jumroon, and the others, caused at least 7 different DS-160 applications to be filed. Those applications contained false claims and statements as part of an effort to obtain E-2 nonimmigrant visas for “Thai citizens so that the Thai citizens could enter the United States.”
The charging document against Jumroon only uses initials for some of the people associated to the case.
In one application, it was alleged that “W.N. had purchased 50% of Somjai LLC d/b/a Curry in a Hurry by investing $65,000.”
“D/B/A” stands for “doing business as.”
“Somjai LLC” is no longer in active status with the state, according to the Corporation Division for the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office. It was registered in 2007 and lost its active status in December 2016. Jumroon is listed as the “registered agent.”
“Somjai LLC” and “Curry in a Hurry” last had a business address of 1235A McVey Ave. in Lake Oswego.
Attempts to reach other members listed on the “Somjai LLC” business license have been unsuccessful.
In another application, it was alleged that “W.N. was the owner and manager of Somjai LLC and that Somjai LLC would pay for costs” for 2 separate people to travel to the U.S.
A 4th application claimed “K.N. had purchased 50% of Vilaivan LLC d/b/a Teriyaki Thai restaurant by investing $60,000.”
Records from the Washington State Department of Revenue show Teriyaki Thai is based at 109 S. 65th Avenue #103 in Ridgefield, Wash.
Attempts to reach people associated with Vilaivan LLC and its business license have been unsuccessful.
Court documents also allege that in March 2014, Jumroon made false statements on tax return documents for the calendar year 2013.