Additional counts have been filed against Placentia’s former finance manager, who is charged with embezzling $5.2 million from the city, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.
The tab was $4.3 million when Michael Minh Nguyen was arrested in April.
The nearly $1 million bump did not come has a result of inflation. Further investigation since the 34-year-old Irvine resident’s arrest uncovered additional city funds Nguyen illegally transferred for his personal use, prosecutors allege.
He was hired by Placentia on April 21, 2008, given access to city accounts and given responsibility for wire transfers and maintaining financial ledgers.
But between April 22, 2015, and April 12 of this year, Nguyen made 17 wire transfers from the city account to other accounts belonging to him and others, the OCDA originally alleged. Now, lead prosecutor Marc Labreche will argue that Nguyen made a total of 36 illegal transfers dating back to Jan. 27, 2014.
And—who knows?—there could be more. The OCDA is continuing to investigate, and anyone with tips that can help Supervising District Attorney Investigator Damon Tucker is asked to call 714.648.3667.
Over the four months before Nguyen’s arrest, he is accused of wire transferring $2 million from the Placentia account. On April 11, he is accused of wiring more than $300,000 to a personal account, and the next day he allegedly wired another $1.5 million, the OCDA claims.
With the help of the FBI Cyber Task Force, the $1.5 million was frozen and reverted back to Placentia, but Nguyen “is accused of embezzling approximately $5.2 million in the above time frame by depositing the money into his own personal accounts.”
The 17 felony counts Nguyen was slapped with in April—including misappropriation of public funds with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and property loss over $3.2 million—have now been compounded with 19 more felony accounts. These new charges include misappropriation of more public funds, 66 felony counts of money laundering, one felony count of making a non-sufficient funds check, and two felony counts of falsifying records.
If convicted without pleading guilty, Nguyen could be sentenced to up to 97 years and eight months in state prison and fined as much as $10.3 million, the OCDA says.
He is being held on $4.3 million bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. Nguyen is also subject to a temporary restraining order on the assets held by the OCDA that were seized from him.
Nguyen is due for a pre-trial hearing in Fullerton on July 22.