The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has charged a Fountain Valley man with money laundering for Republican State Sen. Janet Nguyen’s 2012 campaign for county supervisor.
On 10 different occasions between November 2011 and the end of January 2012, Son Truong Nguyen, 38, allegedly reimbursed a total of $13,300 to people who contributed to Nguyen’s 2012 election campaign committee, according to a press release from the DA’s office.
He is being charged with 10 misdemeanor counts of unlawful contribution and faces a maximum sentence of a $10,000 fine and one year in jail.
The charges against Son Nguyen are part of an ongoing investigation by both the DA’s office and the state Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) into potential political money laundering by the campaign committee.
Last year the FPPC subpoenaed 11 donors to the 2012 committee for financial, phone and communication records, but had to appear before an Orange County Superior Court judge last October when the donors hired an attorney in an attempt to block the subpoenas.
Of those 11 donors, Son Nguyen reimbursed at least two: Vinh Phuoc Du for $1,500 and Troy Thang Nguyen, for contributions worth $1,500 and $1,300, respectively, according to the DA’s complaint. He also reimbursed Troy Nguyen another $1,000 through his Garden Grove-based CD and DVD rental store, Mickie Music.
Son Nguyen also illegally reimbursed Susan Nguyen ($1,400), Thanh Nguyen ($1,500), Michael Nguyen ($1,300) and Helen Nguyen ($1,500), according to the complaint.
The subpoenaed donors also include former Westminster city councilman Tony Lam, a political ally of Sen. Nguyen, (R-Garden Grove). Six donors to the committee have admitted to being illegally reimbursed, according to documents submitted by the FPPC to the court.
And the court documents cite evidence showing patterns of contributions from individuals with the same home address and employer; misreported addresses, occupation and employer information; and individuals listed as ‘unemployed’ or ‘student’ giving significant amounts of money.
The subpoenas were granted and the FPPC investigation is ongoing.
Sen. Nguyen has defended the large numbers of unemployed people contributing to her campaign in the past by saying that her own grassroots background and the nature of her heavily immigrant district has required her to rely on smaller contributions, rather than deep-pocketed donors, for fundraising.
Son Nguyen will be arraigned on Nov. 24 at 8:30 a.m. in Superior Court, courtroom C-54, at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
Contact Thy Vo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.