Raleigh arrest involves international intrigue

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Sutheera Sriphetcharawut (image courtesy Raleigh-Wake City-County Bureau of Identification)

Federal authorities are now involved in a case filled with international intrigue and allegations surprising to regular customers of Raleigh's Sawasdee Thai Restaurant on Capital Boulevard.

NOTE: This story does not involve the Sawasdee Thai restaurants on Glenwood Ave. in Raleigh and on S. Columbia Street in Chapel Hill - which are under different ownership.

According to warrants, a woman who came from Thailand about a year ago gave the owners of Sawasdee $60,000 for a 51% interest in the business. But, she told investigators she was never given any documentation of the investment.

The woman was living in a townhouse owned by the restaurateurs in a neighborhood just behind Sawasdee.

She claims while she was in the townhouse the restaurant owners and two other men came, roughed her up, and took the passports belonging to her and her teenage daughter.

She said she and her daughter were then forced to work at the restaurant.

She eventually fled to Virginia.

After she contacted police, they charged the female owner of the restaurant - 35-year-old Sutheera Sriphetcharawut - with common law robbery, identity theft and obtaining property by false pretenses.

She was freed on $10,000 bond which she paid in cash. According to the warrants, the stolen passports were found at the restaurant.

The allegations are shocking to restaurant customers who said it serves some of the best Thai food around.

"If it's true it sounds horrible. I don't know. It's hard to believe anything like that can happen right here in my backyard," said customer Linda Fitzpatrick.

Others were surprised the allegations involve Sriphetcharawut.

"She's always been like super nice, and super friendly, and she's normally the person that meets you at the door, and I would never expect her to do anything like this. I would never expect that at all," offered customer Ethan Smith.

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