In November 2011, Mai Nhu Nguyen–a federal official in Orange County with power to grant or deny citizenship applications–forced a Vietnamese immigrant to buy and deliver 300 egg rolls to her government building for an office party, according to a three-count indictment.
Investigators in the public-corruption unit of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also claim in their criminal filing that, in November 2012, Nguyen told another Vietnamese immigrant facing a green card interview she would "take care" of her case for a $1,000 secret payment.
Two days after the alleged demand, Nguyen called the applicant, told her to go to Quang Minh market in Little Saigon, purchase a fish sauce package and place an envelope containing $1,000 in the bag, according to the indictment.
When the woman complied, Nguyen walked up in the Brookhurst Avenue-facing parking lot; said, "It's me"; grabbed the package; drove away; and later approved the application, DHS officials claim.
In June 2013, another Vietnam native told investigators that Nguyen had demanded $3,000 to approve her application. A joint FBI-DHS operation gave this victim cash, placed a body wire on her and watched as she met the immigration official in the Santa Ana parking lot of her agency.
According to federal records, Nguyen took the money inside her vehicle, said she might want more to approve the application, then exited to return to her office, but undercover agents surrounded her.
Nguyen pleaded not guilty in the bribery case and is free from custody on $20,000 bail.
The Irvine resident is scheduled to face trial inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse on June 3.
U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staton will preside.
UPDATE, Oct. 3, 2014: Nguyen received a 30-month prison punishment today.