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Press Release

San Jose Cleric Convicted Of Bank Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN JOSE –San Jose cleric Hien Minh Nguyen was convicted on bank fraud charges announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.  The guilty verdict followed a bench trial before the Honorable Beth Labson Freeman, United States District Judge.

From 2005 through 2011, Nguyen, 57, was a priest for the Diocese of San Jose (the Diocese), a pastor of St. Patrick’s Church (St. Patrick’s) and the director of the Vietnamese Catholic Center, also known as the Trung Tam Cong Giao (VCC).  The evidence at trial showed that while employed as a priest in the Diocese, Nguyen received donations for St. Patrick’s from parishioners, some of which he deposited into his own personal bank account.  Nguyen also signed checks drawn on VCC’s bank accounts to pay his personal expenses. 

Further, the evidence demonstrated that Nguyen received from parishioners fourteen separate checks made payable to the VCC, which the parishioners intended would be used for the benefit of VCC.  Rather than depositing those checks into VCC’s bank accounts, Nguyen intentionally deposited them into his personal bank account.  On December 1, 2015, Nguyen was charged by way of a superseding indictment with fourteen counts of bank fraud, in violation of both 18 U.S.C. §§ 1344(1) and 1344(2), and four counts of tax evasion, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201.  He pleaded guilty to the tax evasion charges on August 9, 2016.  With today’s verdict, the Court concluded Nguyen also was guilty of all fourteen counts of bank fraud.

Nguyen is scheduled to be sentenced on June 30, 2017, at 9:00 before Judge Freeman in San Jose.  The maximum statutory penalty for bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344(2), is thirty years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine or twice the gain/loss from the offense.  The maximum statutory penalty for tax evasion, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201, is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, any sentence following conviction will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.  

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael G. Pitman and Thomas Moore and Trial Attorney Gregory Bernstein of the Tax Division are prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

Updated April 3, 2017

Financial Fraud