For release on August 28, 2019
Deputy District Attorney
Human Exploitation Unit
Saratoga Restaurant Owners Convicted of Labor Fraud
The co-owners of a Spanish restaurant and salon in Saratoga were convicted today of multiple counts of felony labor theft and other major fraud charges.
The three businesspeople were found guilty after a three months-long trial of more than 44 counts.
San Jose residents Pedro Barea-Riva, 48, Maria Esther Narbona-Sanchez, 48, and Paulino O’Farrill, 51, face prison. Their sentencing is scheduled for September 20, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. in Department 30 of the Hall of Justice in San Jose.
“The defendants spent a decade victimizing vulnerable people and public institutions for their own profit,” said prosecutor Patrick Vanier. “After four years, the victims in this case have finally received justice.”
The victims, who reported the crimes in 2015, told investigators that they had been lured to leave economically-depressed Spain to come to Silicon Valley with promises of steady jobs at TapaOlè, the defendants’ tapas restaurant, and Utopik hair salon, that would pay them thousands of dollars a month along with rent-free housing.
One ended up working for about $5 an hour. Another was told to come to the South Bay illegally through Canada, where she was caught at the border. When she couldn’t pay off her bail fast enough, they withheld her wages and told her she was working for free.
The defendants also committed identity fraud by stealing two social security numbers to open charge and bank accounts. One took out an $800,000 mortgage using one stolen identity and another filed for bankruptcy under a victim’s social security number.
One of the defendants – who owned a home, a salon, and the restaurant in Santa Clara County and provided a fictious address in Menlo Park, was convicted of receiving welfare from the County of San Mateo.