To support her life-wrecking methamphetamine habit, Little Saigon's Celeste Anh Nguyen--the mother of several kids--helped run an identity theft ring that stole U.S. mail to obtain credit cards in the names of unsuspecting people, bought goods at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, and then returned the items for cash.
When law enforcement officers arrested Nguyen in August 2011 she had in her possession 70 social security numbers, credit cards, bank account numbers and mail belonging to her victims.
Because Nguyen--who emigrated from Vietnam with her family when she was in the first grade--accepted responsibility for her crimes, lost custody of her kids and served a 16-month term stemming from a related state conviction, both a federal prosecutor and Nguyen's taxpayer-supplied defense lawyer recommended a low-end guideline prison sentence of six months.
But Garden Grove's Nguyen, who declared that she now will lead a productive life, hit the jackpot with Republican-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
Carney, who is an extraordinarily compassionate sentencing judge, decided this week to give the Garden Grove woman, who'd been a victim of domestic violence, a punishment of time served.
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The 29-year-old Nguyen (a.k.a. Phuong Anh Pham Nguyen, Anh Nguyen and Phuong Pham Nguyen) must live under federal supervised probation for the next three years and has been ordered to pay more than $41,000 in restitution to her victims.
Nguyen's accomplice, Dan Trung Hoang (a.k.a. Minh Hoang Nguyen), who--with the help of the Catholic Church--immigrated to the U.S. as an infant after a stint in a refugee camp, last year received a term of four months and was ordered to pay $23,500 in restitution.