LEWISTON — Prosecutors said the former owner of a local Thai restaurant underreported earnings over a dozen years that amounted to $2.5 million.

Junlong Bunleng, 51, of 86 Summit Ave. pleaded guilty Wednesday to nine charges in 8th District Court, including theft by misapplication of sales tax, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He also admitted to four counts of tax evasion, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and four counts of failing to truthfully collect and pay sales tax, a Class D misdemeanor.

Assistant Attorney General Gregg Bernstein told Judge Geoffrey Rushlau that when Bunleng owned and managed the Pepper & Spice Thai Cuisine restaurant on Lisbon Street between 2003 and 2015, he was responsible for filing monthly sales tax returns. The restaurant closed last fall due to health violations.

Bunleng “significantly underreported sales” of roughly $2.5 million for more than a decade, Bernstein said. Credit card receipts paid by customers over that period added up to more than Bunleng reported, Bernstein said, not to mention any cash sales that weren’t reported.

Bank statements reflected the restaurant’s income was greater than Bunleng had reported, Bernstein said.

Bunleng repeatedly filed late returns and was told many times he needed to straighten out his books.

He was cooperative during a civil audit and admitted to an investigator he had used revenues to pay bills for the restaurant.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 17, 2019, when he is expected to be sentenced to four years in prison, with all of that time suspended except for four months, plus three years on probation. Restitution is likely to be substantial, approaching $200,000, prosecutors have said.

Bunleng remains free on his own recognizance.

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