News and Press Releases

Federal Charges Brought Against California Man for 1999 Armed Robbery and Murder at Chinatown Jewelry Store

April 04, 2003

Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, Ellen B. Knowlton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for Nevada, and Sheriff Bill Young of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, announce that VU NGUYEN, age 34, of Santa Ana, California, was indicted on April 2, 2003, by a federal grand jury and charged with Conspiracy, Interference With Commerce by Violence, Possession/Use of a Firearm in a Crime of Violence Resulting in Death, and Aiding and Abetting, violations of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371, 1951(a), 924(c) and (j)(1), and 2. The charges relate to the September 16, 1999 armed robbery at Chong Hing Jewelers, located in the Chinatown Mall on Spring Mountain Road in Las Vegas, and the murder of Kenneth Bailey, a store security guard.

According to the Indictment, on September 15, 1999, VU NGUYEN and co-conspirator ANH THE DUONG, age 28, also of Santa Ana, allegedly traveled from California to Nevada. The following day, NGUYEN and DUONG traveled to the jewelry store on Spring Mountain Road and stole approximately $1,720,000 worth of watches. The defendants used a semiautomatic assault weapon during the robbery and killed security guard Bailey as they were entering the store.

In September 2001, co-conspirator DUONG was charged for this offense and multiple other armed robberies and homicides in a racketeering indictment filed in federal court in San Jose, California. Those charges are pending. DUONG is currently in state custody in Los Angeles, pending trial for a quadruple homicide in El Monte, California, which is also part of the federal case in San Jose. NGUYEN is in federal custody, and will have an initial appearance hearing in Las Vegas before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen.

NGUYEN is facing a maximum statutory penalty of life imprisonment on the use of the firearm during the crime of violence charge; 20 years imprisonment on the interference with commerce by violence charge; and five years imprisonment on the conspiracy charge. Additionally, restitution to the victims and fines of $250,000 or twice the gross loss to the victims may be imposed by the Court. The actual sentence will be dictated by the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and will be imposed at the discretion of the Court.

No decision has been made whether the government will seek the death penalty against VU NGUYEN or ANH THE DUONG. That decision will ultimately be made by the Attorney General of the United States.

The prosecution is the result of a three-year investigation by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from numerous state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorneys Jane Shoemaker and James T. Chou, and Assistant United States Attorney Eric Johnson.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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