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Ukiah restaurant owners arraigned in federal court

Two Ukiah restaurateurs were arrested and arraigned Wednesday on multiple counts of tax fraud in federal court in Eureka, authorities said.

Yaowapha Ritdet, 53, and Steve Walter, 52, owners of Ruen Tong Thai Cuisine and the Walter Cafe, both on North State Street, each was charged with five counts of filing false tax returns, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office and Internal Revenue Service.

Ritdet additionally was charged with two counts of willfully failing to report a foreign bank account, federal authorities said.

Neither could be reached Wednesday evening for comment.

They were indicted April 15, two years after IRS agents raided the two restaurants, which have remained open.

According to the federal indictment, unsealed Wednesday, Ritdet and Walter “willfully signed” false income tax returns from 2007 to 2011. The returns failed to disclose rental income, foreign bank accounts and income from their businesses, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Ritdet failed to file Foreign Bank Account Reports in 2009 and 2010 on accounts she maintained in Thailand. The accounts were for more than $10,000 — the amount that triggers disclosure requirements — in 2008 and 2009, according to the indictment.

The maximum penalty for each count of filing a false tax return is three years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum penalty for willfully violating foreign bank accounting recording requirements carries the same possible penalties.

The pair is next scheduled to appear in federal court in San Francisco May 7.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or Glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com.

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