United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Jury Convicts 7th Defendant In $1.8 Million Indoor Marijuana Operation
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
May 9, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims announced today that a jury has found Xi A. “Andy” Lieng, aka A. Xi Lieng, 43, of Fresno, guilty of conspiring to grow marijuana, distribute and possess with intent to distribute and growing marijuana plants valued at $1.8 million.
According to evidence presented during the six-day trial, in 2007, Lieng, through his companion, Jenny Chi Ha, aka Phuong A. Ha, 44, acquired two residential properties in Fresno for the express purpose of setting up an elaborate indoor marijuana growing operation. On April, 9, 2012, Ha pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud lenders in order to acquire the properties. Fresno firefighters discovered the indoor grow at one of the houses on Villa Avenue in southeast Fresno when a fire broke out as a result of the unlawful diversion of electricity. The firefighters contacted the Fresno Police Department, who handed the case over to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office for investigation. Narcotics detectives found 862 marijuana plants at the property. Detectives were then able to link the Villa property with another residence on Donner Avenue in northwest Fresno where they found 973 marijuana plants.
A response team from PG&E also assisted in the fire investigation. They initially responded to the fire to shut off electricity to the house to avoid electrocution. PG&E investigators determined that Lieng had stolen over $19,000 worth of electricity in order to power the three-month grow at the Villa and Donner properties.
The jury considered extensive evidence, including financial transactions and records, linking Lieng directly to the cultivations. The jury returned its guilty verdict within one hour. Upon receiving the jury’s verdict, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill remanded Lieng to the custody of the U.S. Marshal. His sentencing is scheduled for July 23, 2012.
Lieng is the last of seven defendants to be convicted in this case. He is facing 10 years to life in prison and a $4 million fine.The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Lieng’s brothers, Tony Lieng, aka Ung A. Lieng, 38, of Clovis, and Richard Lieng, 29, of Fresno, previously pleaded guilty and are scheduled for sentencing July 23 and June 25, respectively. Tony Lieng pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mortgage fraud. Richard Lieng pled guilty to the drug conspiracy. Tony Lieng’s wife, Lynn Truong, aka Linh Thi Truong, 40, of Clovis, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mortgage fraud in connection with the acquisition of a grow house in Willits and is scheduled for sentencing on August 27.
Monique Le Nguyen, aka Monique Dzung Le, 62, of Milpitas, who previously pleaded guilty to conspiring as the mortgage broker for five properties acquired in connection with the drug conspiracy, has already served her prison term of one year and eight months. Shirley Wong, aka Ngoc Le Vuong, 40, of San Jose, also pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud in connection with the acquisition of two grow houses, one in Clovis and one in Fresno. She, too, has served her prison term of one year and 9 months. Both Nguyen and Wong were also ordered to make restitution to the lenders who financed the properties. The five properties involved in the overall mortgage fraud scheme have all gone into foreclosure, resulting in significant losses to various lenders.
This case is the product of an extensive investigation sponsored by the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a focused interagency program investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The Fresno Resident Office of the DEA and Fresno County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation with assistance from the Fresno Police Department, Clovis Police Department, Fresno Fire Department, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, and Marin County Sheriff’s Office. Primary support for the mortgage fraud portion of the investigation was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office own in-house Mortgage Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen A. Escobar and Yasin Mohammad are prosecuting the case.