On Tuesday, 18 December, a former restaurant owner who fraudulently got the visa for Thailand cooks which he forced to work long hours for minimal wages was given three years and one-month jail term in federal prison.
Paul Jumroon, 55, is a former owner of two Thai restaurants – Curry in Hurry in Lake Oswego and Teriyaki Thai in Ridgefield, Washington. His prosecution with his ex-wife’s Tanya Jumroon, 59, is the first forced labor case the federal court in Oregon handled in a long time according to Hannah Horsley, Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Prosecutors claimed that Paul Jumroon and his ex-wife took advantage of their workers by giving them inflated figures of debt they owed, withholding their passports as well as Social Security cards and by verbally abusing them.
After Paul lost cooks severally, he travelled to Thailand from where he brought chefs to the US. He promised the cooks he will cover their travel cost and got them E-2 visas which are made for people with or who want to bring substantial investment to the US. After bringing them to the US, Paul forced the chefs to pay back the money he spent on their traveling.
The Dark Secret
Anna J. Brown, U.S District Judge, revealed that she had a difficult time handling the case because this particular criminal conduct is not something she is familiar with and tagged it ‘this dark secret.’
Forced labor is prevalent in the restaurant industry which lives off immigrant labor.
Anna believed Paul Jumroon’s actions were not fashioned to defy US law but to succeed economically. She said Paul acted in ignorance in contrary to prosecutor’s claim of intentional moves. Nevertheless, Paul was given three years and one month sentence in order to send a strong message to others that forced labor is a dangerous criminal act.
Paul’s lawyer after that said his client has been through humbling experiences – sale of the two restaurants and his home – since the event unfolded. Hence he urged probation or home detention.
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