CALIFORNIA (KTXL) — California Attorney General Rob Bonta released the state’s 2nd annual Labor Day Report highlighting actions his office took over the past year against employers found or alleged to have mistreated employees.
Through the state’s Tax Recovery in the Underground Economy (TRUE) Task Force, Bonta said his office “cracked down on white collar crime, protecting the dignity of California’s work force” and detailed numerous cases his office had overseen.
Bonta also laid out the details of an agreement with Amazon the state had arrived at after it found the company’s COVID-19 notices insufficient.
Rainbow Bright human trafficking case
The report touted the conviction of three family members who ran an adult residential and child care company for nearly a decade that targeted Filipinos, many of whom had just recently immigrated to the U.S.
In a June press release announcing the convictions, the state said the owners Joshua Gamos, Noel Gamos, and Carlina Gamos “trafficked many of the victims using threats of arrest and deportation, false promises to assist with immigration” and confiscated some passports. The attorney general’s office said one of the family members, Joshua Gamos, also physically abused one of the victims.
“The jury found that the defendants took over $500,000 in the commission of the scheme; the victims were vulnerable; and that defendants acted with intent to cause great bodily injury and with cruelty, viciousness, and callousness,” the press release said.
$893,000 stolen in grand theft of labor by restaurant operators
Bonta’s report discussed the 2021 arraignment of three individuals operating Japanese restaurants on charges that they stole nearly $900,000 in wages from employees and evaded more than $459,000 in sales and payroll takes.
The attorney general’s office alleged that David Tai Leung and Wendy Lai Ip defrauded 34 employees over the years, some out of tens of thousands of dollars.
“We take our responsibility to protect working people and tax payer money seriously, and look forward to proving these allegations in court,” Bonta said of the case.
Guilty pleas secured in statewide sex trafficking ring
The report referenced a case in which three members of a statewide sex trafficking ring pleaded guilty to various charges related to their involvement in a statewide sex trafficking ring.
Bonta’s office said the effort to break up the sex trafficking operation resulted in “the rescue of more than a dozen suspected survivors.”
Pengcheng Cai, Dafeng Wen, and Peishin Lee were three of six individuals suspected to be involved. Another pleaded guilty, and the cases against the remaining two are still ongoing, according to the attorney general’s office.
Thai Original BBQ unemployment insurance tax avoidance
The report also included a mention of the sentencing of Chaturonk Ngamary Jr., owner of several Thai Original BBQ restaurants in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, for failing to report $7.5 million in sales and $2.9 million wages to the government.
Sanjutha Hantanachaikul, the owner of one Thai Original BBQ restaurant, was also charged with evading taxes. She pled guilty to filing false tax returns.
Before being sentenced, Ngamary repaid $1.5 million in restitution to the state and insurance carriers. Before sentencing, Hantanchaikul repaid $6,751.29.
The report said their actions “defrauded the state of workers compensation insurance, undermining the general fund.”
Amazon COVID-19 notifications judgment
The Labor Day Report also summarized California’s “first-of-its-kind stipulated judgment” with Amazon.
Bonta said the Department of Justice found that Amazon wasn’t providing employees and health authorities sufficient notice related to COVID-19 cases at their facilities.
As a result Amazon was ordered to notify employees within one day of the exact number of new COVID-19 cases at their workplace, properly inform workers about the company’s COVID-19 safety plan and practices, inform health agencies of COVID-19 cases within 48 hours and pay $500,000 “towards enforcement of California’s consumer protection laws.“