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Press Release

Buddhist monk pleads guilty to defrauding temple of more than $263,000

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Louisiana

LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that a Lafayette Buddhist monk pleaded guilty to wrongfully taking more than $263,000 from his own temple.

Khang Nguyen Le, 36, of Lafayette, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna to one count of wire fraud. The plea will become final when accepted by U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter. According to the guilty plea, Le was the president, presiding monk and resident of the temple of the Vietnamese Buddhist Association of Southwest Louisiana located on Bourque Road in Lafayette from 2010 to October of 2014. From January of 2013 until August of 2014, Le wrongfully withdrew $263,463.36 in temple funds from the temple’s bank accounts to gamble at a Lake Charles casino.  Le would drive to Lake Charles and withdraw the money from temple bank accounts using automated teller machines and casino tellers. To hide his gambling activity from temple members, Le would misrepresent the temple’s financial situation at meetings and gambled in lower-populated areas of the casino to avoid being seen. Le was at no time authorized by the temple to use its money for gambling purposes.

Le faces 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date of June 27, 2016 was set.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys David C. Joseph and Myers P. Namie are prosecuting the case.

Updated March 17, 2016