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Press Release

South Bay Resident Sentenced To 45 Months In Prison For Money Laundering And Witness Tampering

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

SAN JOSE – Kenneth Tam was sentenced to 45 months in prison for his role in a money laundering and witness tampering scheme related to the sale of stolen computer parts announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Kareem Carter.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Judge.

Tam, 59, formerly of San Jose, pleaded guilty to the charges on February 4, 2019.  According to the plea agreement, Tam admitted that from January 2006 through July 2010, he was an employee of a San Francisco Bay Area manufacturer of computer parts.  During that period, and until at least the end of 2010, Tam knowingly obtained stolen merchandise from his employer and sold it to his co-conspirator, Cuong Cao Dang.  Dang owned a company whose business was overwhelmingly that of buying and selling merchandise stolen from Tam’s employer.  Tam admitted that in most instances, he would take cash from Dang as payment for delivery of stolen computer parts.  Tam further admitted that he would deposit the proceeds from the stolen equipment into accounts owned by a foreign national who had given Tam power-of-attorney over the accounts.

Tam’s plea agreement describes various aspects of the money-laundering and witness tampering schemes.  For example, on February 3, 2010, Dang provided Tam with a check for $500,000 made out to a foreign national whose name Tam was using as the nominal owner of accounts Tam controlled.  The check was provided to Tam for payment of previously provided stolen parts, as well as in pre-payment for additional stolen parts that Tam planned to provide.  Nevertheless, Tam instructed Dang to write “loan” on the memo line of the check to disguise the true purpose of the payment.  Then, after Tam learned there was an investigation into Dang’s company, Tam gave Dang a backdated check for $500,000 to make it appear as though a loan was made and re-paid.  Also, Tam provided the foreign national with a false cover story to use if she were contacted by law enforcement agents investigating the accounts.

On October 26, 2017, a federal grand jury handed down a superseding indictment charging Tam with two counts of witness tampering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(1), as well as one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1349; money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956; structuring financial transactions, in violation of 31 U.S.C. § 5324(a)(1) and (a)(3); making a false statement to government agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001; and contempt, in violation of 18 U.S.C.§  401(3).  Tam pleaded guilty to the money laundering count and one count of witness tampering.  The remaining counts were dismissed.  

In addition to the prison term, Judge Davila sentenced Tam to serve two years of supervised release and to pay $3,475,958.14 in restitution.  Judge Davila ordered Tam to surrender on or before August 21, 2019, to begin serving his prison term.  

On December 11, 2015, Dang pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme and on October 31, 2017, Judge Davila sentenced Dang to 90 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.              

Assistant United States Attorneys Amie Rooney and Robert Leach are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Lakisha Holliman and Elise Etter.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the IRS-CI and the Santa Clara REACT Task Force.   

Updated May 7, 2019