WASHINGTON - A federal grand jury in Santa Ana, Calif., indicted former congressional candidate Tan Nguyen on a federal obstruction of justice charge today, announced Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, and Thomas P. O’Brien, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. The indictment alleges that Nguyen made misleading statements to investigators regarding a letter that was sent to Latino voters in the 47th Congressional District of the State of California prior to the November 2006 federal elections. At the time the letter was sent, Nguyen was running to represent the Orange County-based district in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The grand jury alleged that Nguyen knowingly misled state investigators who were investigating the circumstances surrounding the mailing of the letter. The indictment also alleges that Nguyen’s actions were intended to prevent communication to federal law enforcement officers of information relating to Nguyen’s involvement in the production and dissemination of the letter and to whether the letter violated federal election laws, including interfering with the federally protected right to vote in federal elections.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. If convicted, Nguyen faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Nguyen will receive a summons to appear in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana for his initial appearance and post-indictment arraignment on Oct.14, 2008.
This continuing investigation is being conducted jointly by the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The case is being investigated by Special Agent Julie McWilliams of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney James Walsh, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Waier of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.