Restaurant owner to be confined to his home for a year over tax fraud

The St. Louis Park restaurateur pleaded guilty to dozens of charges.
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The owner of a St. Louis Park restaurant will be confined to his home for a year as punishment for filing false tax returns on dozens of occasions.

Thomas Pham, 45, of Plymouth, had pleaded guilty earlier this month to 38 counts of filing false tax returns after under-reporting monthly sales at his Thanh Do restaurant, formerly at 8028 Minnetonka Blvd.

He was sentenced to five years of probation and a year in a workhouse, which he will spend instead confined to his home monitored with an electronic tag.

Hennepin County District Judge Regina Chu choosing this in lieu of prison because Pham "appeared to be amenable to probation and she wanted him to pay the money he owes the state."

Prosecutors had argued for him to serve the term in the workhouse however, noting that Pham "had a lengthy history of non-compliance with the state tax laws."

Over a period of three years, Pham underreported sales to the tune of $120,000, and must pay restitution of $130,858, which takes into account penalty fees and interest.

Pham has owned several restaurants in the Twin Cities over the years, including the Wondrous Azian Kitchen in downtown, and Azia and the Caterpillar Lounge on Eat Street.

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Prosecutor Sarah Stennes said that Pham had stolen not just from the state of Minnesota, but from all the citizens who adhere to tax laws.

"Sales and use tax is a trust tax," she said. "It is a tax on general retail sales paid by all Minnesotans and it’s the duty of merchants, such as Mr. Pham, to hold those funds in trust until they are remitted to the State of Minnesota.

"The revenue from sales and use tax benefit all residents of our state in the form of roads, bridges, schools, etc. In that sense, not just the Department of Revenue but also all the citizens of Minnesota were a victim here."

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