Buddhist monk sentenced to 30 months in prison for defrauding temple of more than $263,000
LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that a Lafayette Buddhist monk was sentenced to 30 months in prison for wrongfully taking more than $263,000 from his own temple.
Khang Nguyen Le, 36, a Vietnamese citizen who is living in Lafayette, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter on one count of wire fraud. He was also ordered to pay $263,463.36 in restitution and may face deportation to Vietnam after release from prison. According to the March 17, 2016 guilty plea, Le was the president, presiding monk and resident of the temple of the Vietnamese Buddhist Association of Southwest Louisiana 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 unlawful 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.
Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David C. Joseph and Myers P. Namie prosecuted the case.