Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 8:15 a.m.
Little Saigon's Celeste Anh Nguyen is a lucky criminal.
A federal judge in Orange County is giving Nguyen--a brazen identity and mail thief--a generous path to erase her crimes from the public record if she successfully completes a Conviction and Sentence Alternative "CASA" Program.
CASA provides substance abuse and counseling to criminals who plead guilty, take courses and agree to remain sober for at least six months.
Matthew B. Shields, a former Secret Service agent turned U.S. Postal Inspector, investigates mail theft rings in Southern California and, with the help of police in Costa Mesa and Westminster as well as security officers at Nordstrom stores in South Coast Plaza and Brea, unraveled Nguyen's crimes.
A search of Nguyen's home on Warren Street in Westminster discovered that she had used stolen mail to compile 22 victim profiles and possessed multiple stolen credit cards and checks.
According to federal court records, Nguyen--who was born in 1984--used change of address forms to divert mail to her home, gained personal information about her victims, called credit card companies, added herself to her victim's accounts and then went on a $23,500 shopping spree.
In August 2011, a federal grand jury indicted Nguyen and her cohort, 37-year-old Dan Trung Hoang (AKA Minh Hoang Nguyen). She pleaded guilty in January and entered the CASA program in July.
Earlier this month inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford sentenced Hoang to a 4-month prison trip.
Hoang remains locked today under federal custody inside the Santa Ana Jail.