WASHINGTON – Tan Nguyen, 35, from Oceanside, Calif., was sentenced this morning by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter to one year and one day in federal prison for his conviction last year on a federal obstruction of justice charge stemming from lies he told California investigators about his involvement in a letter sent to Latino voters during his 2006 campaign for U.S. House of Representatives. In addition to the prison term, Judge Carter ordered Nguyen to serve six months at a halfway house.
A federal jury in December 2010 found Nguyen guilty of obstruction of justice for lying to the California Department of Justice, which was investigating numerous complaints from Latino voters in the 47th Congressional District in Orange County. The complaints came after approximately 14,000 voters in the district received a letter in Spanish that made claims about who was eligible to vote and what would happen to immigrant voters if they cast ballots. The mailer went out on letterhead that was similar to that of an anti-illegal immigration group, the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, which had nothing to do with the letter.
During an interview with investigators in October 2006, Nguyen falsely stated that campaign volunteers created the letter without his knowledge.
“The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the voting rights of all individuals. We simply will not tolerate those who attempt to interfere with efforts to enforce civil rights laws in our nation,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
“Mr. Nguyen’s conduct undermined the public’s expectation of honesty from public officials and those who desire to serve,” said U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California André Birotte Jr.
Judge Carter ordered Nguyen to surrender to begin serving his sentence by March 28, 2011.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI. This case was prosecuted by Civil Rights Division trial attorney D.W. Tunnage and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Staples of the Central District of California.