Florida Resident Pleads Guilty to Violent Crimes Linked to Debt Dispute
Defendant Torched One House And Attempted To Bomb Another To Collect Debt
A Florida resident who threatened family members over a $20,000 debt and used firebombs to torch one home and threaten another, pleaded guilty today to a variety of charges, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. SANG NGOC UNG, 54, of Margate, Florida pleaded guilty to Collection of Extension of Credit by Extortionate Means, Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering Activity, Unlawful Possession of a Destructive Device and Carrying a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence. In his plea agreement UNG admits that in the early morning hours of June 10, 2013 he set fire to his relative’s home on S. Cloverdale Street in Seattle. The fire extensively damaged the home and forced the homeowner, her adult children and a friend to flee through a window and the garage. Shortly after that fire, investigators went to a second home associated with the family and discovered a destructive device that had not ignited. When sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones on July 25, 2014, prosecutors will recommend no more than 25 years in prison and the defense can recommend no less than 5 years. Judge Jones is not bound by the recommendations and can impose any sentence allowed by law.
According to records in the case, UNG had been pressuring family members in Seattle about $20,000 he believes is owed to him. Family members had attempted to pay some of the money, but UNG reportedly continued to threaten them if the debt was not paid. In mid-May 2013, UNG arrived in the Seattle area and again began pressuring the family to repay the debt. On June 9, 2013, UNG was observed attempting to contact people at both homes. The fire and the destructive device that failed to ignite were discovered the next day. Cell phone records place UNG in the Seattle area during the time the fire and destructive device were set. Evidence on the destructive device ties him to the scene. UNG returned to the Seattle area in July 2013 and was arrested by Seattle Police and ATF agents. At the time of his arrest UNG had a firearm in his possession and admits that he was armed during the criminal conduct in this case.
The case is being investigated by the Seattle Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Todd Greenberg.