Seventeen of the 19 people swept up in last spring's crackdown on illegal gambling machines in Little Saigon have reportedly pleaded guilty to misdemeanors.
Charges were dismissed against an 18th arrestee, California Café manager Anh Viet Quach, 34, of Westminster, while Cafe Miss Cutie owner Hanh Hong Le, 36, of Santa Ana, is reported to have a court deal in the works that could lead to dismissal heading into a March 3 hearing.
Le must avoid new violations and forfeit about $1,300 in profits and the gambling machines to have the charges dismissed, Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Olivieri reportedly told City News Service.
With 14 machines, Café Miss Cutie at 13959 Harbor Blvd.. Garden Grove, had the second-most confiscated by authorities. California Café, 10522 McFadden Ave., Garden Grove, had 15 gambling machines seized.
The Orange County Register reports that the guilty pleas drew fines and probation for the 17 defendants but no jail time as long as they avoid further violations.
The Garden Grove Police Department headed a joint investigation launched in December 2010 and targeting the owners and staffs at 16 cafés with illegally operated gaming machines. Under California law, the mere possession or control of any slot machine or gambling machine that takes customer money, credit cards or a token representing cash is prohibited (unless you're on an Indian reservation or other pre-approved location).
When the cafés were busted on March 29, 2011, several owners and staffers had large amounts of cash and documented or recorded customer winnings, according to authorities who seized 186 machine and $140,000 in cash. The Garden Grove City Council would later pass an ordinance banning the machines.
The defendants include: Holly Nguyen, 24, of Garden Grove; Vickie Nguyen, 20, of Westminster; Thanh Van Nguyen, 43, of Santa Ana; Mandy Dung Nguyen, 26, of Stanton; No Thi La, 54, of Garden Grove; Hien Thanh Thi Nguyen, 41, of Garden Grove; Mai Ngoc Nguyen, 22, of Westminster; Huong Thanh Pham, 34, of Westminster; Uyen Tran, 38, of Orange; Kim Ahn Thi Lam, 53, of Garden Grove; Tony Trong Do, 58, of Yorba Linda; Phuong Thi Truc Nguyen, 38, of Westminster; Hanh Hong Le, 36, of Santa Ana; Thach Co Hoang, 28, of Garden Grove; Nina Trinh Dang, 42, of Westminster; Quy Huu Tran, 61, of Santa Ana; Ngoc Ai Lu, 37, of Garden Grove; Thuy Cung Do, 38, of Garden Grove.
Besides California Café and Café Miss Cutie, the targeted establishments, all in Garden Grove, were: Café Gossip, 12178 Brookhurst St.; Café Xinh Xinh, 10548 Westminster Ave.; Devang 3 Café, 10161 Westminster Ave.; Café Sao, 13576 Harbor Blvd., #B4; Missi Café, 13135 Brookhurst St.; GZ Café, 10130 Garden Grove Blvd., #127; Café Taonhan, 10691 Westminster Ave.; Miss Saigon Café, 10947 Westminster Ave.; Skyy Café, 14331 Euclid St., #107; Passions Café, 12321 Westminster Blvd.; Café Di Vang 2, 14221 Euclid St.; Café Eden Inc., 10900 Westminster Ave., #6; Starz Café, 14241 Euclid St., #108; Café Chichi, 14282 Brookhurst St., Ste. #4.
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Garden Grove Police was assisted by the FBI, the California Department of Justice Bureau of Gaming Control, the California Franchise Tax Board; and police departments of Buena Park, El Monte, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Orange, Santa Ana, Tustin and Westminster. The sheriff's departments and district attorney's offices in Orange and Los Angeles counties, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Orange County Probation Department helped serve and cite suspects.