Twin Cities restaurateur charged with 38 counts of tax fraud

He evaded almost $120,000 in sales tax payments over a three-year period.
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A Twin Cities restaurant owner has been charged with a whopping 38 counts of fraud after allegedly underreporting almost $120,000 in sales tax.

Thom Pham, 44, of Plymouth, has been charged in Hennepin County with filing fraudulent tax returns between November 2013 to December 2016.

It relates to his Thai restaurant in St. Louis Park, Thanh Do at 8028 Minnetonka Boulevard, which Pham then sold to his girlfriend in December 2016, who reopened it as the Kai and Little Crustacean Restaurant on Jan. 1, 2017.

According to the criminal complaint, Pham would underreport the sales tax the Thanh Do owed the Department of Revenue on a monthly basis, with the DOR's criminal investigations team receiving a complaint in July 2016.

It's not the first time Pham has been trouble with tax payments, with the complaint stating he has a "long history of non-filing, audit issues, and collection evasion."

WCCO reported in 2012 that Pham owed more than $164,000 to the state's Department of Revenue since the opening of his first restaurant in 1999, and was on a monthly repayment plan with the government.

This time, investigators executed several search warrants including at Pham's rented home in Plymouth, where they recovered "multiple plastic bins that contained records from Thanh Do restaurant."

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When these records were compared with the taxes collected from the Thanh Do, they found the sales had been significantly underreported, and Pham's business owed just over $118,000 in back taxes.

When combined with penalties and interest, the amount owed to the state is $130,858.98.

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.

He also opened a second Thanh Do location, in Woodbury, which closed down after just a few months in 2015.

"It is the obligation of every person, whether an employee or a business owner, to pay taxes," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. "Taxes are the responsibility of everyone who lives in a free society. The investigators at the revenue department did an excellent job in putting this case together and we will vigorously prosecute Mr. Pham."

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