Restaurateur Pham pleads guilty, sentenced to probation

Friday, June 21, 2019

Restaurant owner Thomas Pham was sentenced to probation and a year confined to his home, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Pham, 45, of Plymouth, pleaded guilty June 11 to 38 counts of filing false tax returns for under reporting monthly taxable sales at his St. Louis Park restaurant, Thanh Do.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Regina Chu said at the Tuesday sentencing that she would not send Pham to prison because he appeared to be amenable to probation and she wanted him to pay the money he owes the state.

Instead, she placed him on probation for five years and ordered him to spend 365 days in the workhouse. However, she agreed to let him instead serve it on electronic home monitoring, which will make sure he is only at home or work or other required appointments. In addition, Pham must pay restitution to the state of $130,858 for the taxes owed from November 2013 through December 2016 and penalty and interest.

Pham also will have 39 felony convictions on his record including a 2016 conviction in Mille Lacs County for issuing a dishonored check.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Sarah Stennes argued for a sentence of at least 365 days in the workhouse and to be served at the facility in Plymouth, not on electronic monitoring. She noted Pham had a lengthy history of non-compliance with the state tax laws, both in this case and several others where the revenue department had to pursue cases against Pham and his restaurants in civil court.

“Sales and use tax is a trust tax,” Stennes argued at the sentencing. “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.”

According to his guilty plea and the criminal complaint, restaurant records seized by the Minnesota Department of Revenue proved that Pham was underreporting the amount of sales tax he should have been paying on food and beverage sales at Thanh Do.