The victim in a Little Saigon loan-sharking operation that FBI agents believe used at least one dirty lawman as an enforcer is suing the Westminster Police Department, its chief, three cops and the alleged loan shark.
Lounge owner Hanh Le claims in her 11-count federal lawsuit that a "team" of defendants "conspired" to "frighten, pressure, harass, intimidate, assault and threaten" her into making payments on "usurious loans" totaling $170,000 with an illegal 60 percent annual interest rate to accused loan shark Kevin Khanh Tuan Do of Fountain Valley.
Last August, prosecutors inside the U.S. Department of Justice charged officer Anthony Duong Donner and Do in the case, but Hanh believes the corruption extended to her named additional defendants: Police Chief Kevin Baker as well as veteran officers Phuong Pham and Timothy Vu, according to the lawsuit.
Hanh claims police repeatedly "carried out drive-bys" at her residence in their patrol vehicles, entered her business and residence without permission, directed high-intensity spotlights from their patrol vehicles inside her shop while customers were present, harassed patrons with interrogations under false pretenses, sent threatening messages, pulled her and her employees over in bogus traffic stops, and threatened her with arrest and imprisonment when she fell behind on making payments to Do.
In the case of Baker, the chief is not a criminal defendant and has cooperated with federal authorities, but Hanh's lawsuit names him for allegedly condoning the loan-sharking scheme or possessing "a reckless or callous indifference" it.
Unless Hanh possesses presently unknown evidence directly against Baker, it's likely he'll eventually be dismissed from the case.
The impact of the alleged scheme caused Hanh to suffer loss of income as well as "severe mental anguish" for the deprivation of her constitutional rights to be free of police officers acting under the color of law for a loan shark, according to the lawsuit written for the plaintiff by Irvine-based attorney Mark W. Eisenberg.
Westminster city council members rejected an opportunity to settle the civil dispute with Hanh late last year and lawyers for the defendants are asserting that police should be immune to such lawsuits and denying their clients did anything wrong.
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter scheduled a June 17 trial for Donner, a graduate of Golden West College's police program, and Do, the owner of a construction company.
Carter also will handle Hanh's lawsuit that seeks unspecified damages.
Assistant United States Attorney Brett A. Sagel is in the process of turning over a large amount of investigatory discovery to criminal defense lawyers.
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Westminster PD has superb officers but continually faces embarrassment from the dubious conduct a few rotten cops on the force.