You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

San Jose Cleric Sentenced To Three Years In Prison For Bank Fraud And Tax Evasion

Defendant Also Ordered to Pay $1,883,883 in Restitution

SAN JOSE – San Jose cleric Hien Minh Nguyen was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for bank fraud and tax evasion announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Beth Labson Freeman, U.S. District Judge, following Nguyen’s March 21, 2017, conviction on bank fraud charges, and August 9, 2016, guilty plea in which he admitted to committing tax evasion.

According to court filings and the evidence from trial, Nguyen, 57, is a priest for the Diocese of San Jose (the Diocese), and served as 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).  As a priest in the Diocese, Nguyen received cash donations for St. Patrick’s and the VCC from parishioners, some of which he stole.  Nguyen also signed checks drawn on VCC’s bank accounts to pay his own personal expenses, and deposited checks made payable to the VCC into his own personal bank account.  Judge Freeman determined that Nguyen used this method to steal a total of at least $1,449,365 from the Diocese between 2005 and 2011.

On December 1, 2015, a federal grand jury issued a superseding indictment charging Nguyen 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.  After a bench trial, the Court convicted Nguyen on all fourteen counts of bank fraud on March 21, 2017.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Freeman also ordered Nguyen to pay $1,883,883 in restitution, including $1,449,365 to the Diocese of San Jose, and $434,518 to the IRS.  In addition, Judge Freeman also ordered Nguyen to serve three years of supervised release.  Judge Freeman ordered the defendant to surrender on or before January 5, 2018, to begin serving his sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael G. Pitman and Thomas Moore are prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

Updated October 3, 2017