Fountain Valley Man Pleads Guilty to Political Money Laundering for Janet Nguyen

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A Fountain Valley man pled guilty and was sentenced Friday afternoon for laundering $13,300 in campaign contributions for Republican State Sen. Janet Nguyen’s 2012 campaign for county supervisor.

Son Truong Nguyen, 39, pled to 10 misdemeanor counts of unlawful contributions and was sentenced to three years of informal probation, a $5,000 fine and 40 hours of community service in lieu of jail. He will also be barred from being involved in any political campaigns during his probation, according to a press release by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Son Nguyen’s conviction is part of a joint investigation by the DA and the state Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) that began in 2012. He will also have to pay a $20,000 fine to the FPPC.

Between between November 2011 and the end of January 2012, Son Nguyen reimbursed a total of $13,300 to people who contributed to Janet Nguyen’s 2012 election campaign committee, according to the DA’s complaint.

Nguyen’s campaign forms during her re-election campaign for Supervisor drew scrutiny for a large number of unemployed donors, nearly 60 individuals between 2009 and 2012.

At the time, the First District Supervisor 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.

In 2014, Voice of OC reported that 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.

The court documents submitted by the FPPC cited evidence showing patterns of money laundering: 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.

Of those 11 donors, Son Nguyen was charged by the DA for reimbursing 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, according to the complaint.

Son Nguyen also illegally reimbursed four other individuals, 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 Tony Lam, a political ally of Sen. Nguyen who is known for becoming the first Vietnamese American elected official when he was elected to the Westminster City Council.

The subpoenas were granted.

Meanwhile, Voice of OC also reported in 2014 similar patterns of individuals contributing under different business entities but from the same home address in Placentia — a total of $34,000 from a single household.

FPPC spokesman Jay Wierenga said the case against Son Nguyen is closed, although he would not comment on the status of the investigation into Janet Nguyen’s 2012 political campaign committee.

Wierenga said in an email that they found “insufficient evidence the candidate (Janet Nguyen) knew of or was aware of the laundered funds.”

DA spokeswoman Roxi Fyad declined to comment.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

  • JVAdvocateII

    Thy Vo, we all know that Ms. Nguyen knew EXACTLY what was going on, why is the ORANGE COUNTY DA, afraid to go after the real criminals, instead of fighting Illegal Convictions – Multi Brady Violations – and DNA that exonerates Inmates? Maybe what needs to happen is We the People need to go in and take back our Government.

  • Bert Ashland

    Zenger, I am surprised they even allow you to comment.

  • Bert Ashland

    It would seem to me the beneficiaries of the “crime” were the individuals who were reimbursed for their contributions.

    • David Zenger

      That’s really damn stupid, even for you.

      The idiots who contributed to your patron’s campaign got reimbursed from the third party. What they put out was what they got back.

      Don’t put the word crime in quotation marks. Even the the useless DA whitewash has come up with a patsy willing to take the shallow fall – for a crime.

      Stay in the shallow end.

  • David Zenger

    Wierenga said in an email that they found “insufficient evidence the
    candidate (Janet Nguyen) knew of or was aware of the laundered funds.”

    Now this admission from Nguyen’s campaign spin dude, from the Register article:

    “Gilliard said she [Nguyen] was unaware that Son Truong Nguyen was reimbursing contributors and was not contacted by investigators in the case.”

    So no evidence was found and NOBODY bothered to confront the beneficiary of this crime, a beneficiary with a long list of shady campaign contributions? C’mon, really? This isn’t even competent whitewashing by Rackauckas. Still, he’s gotten way with this crap for long he must feel perfectly safe doing it.

    • LFOldTimer

      One wouldn’t even have to be a first year law student to see through the smoke ‘n mirrors. The courthouse janitor could figure it out. OC is the new TJ.

  • GreyWolf62

    Slap on the wrist. He would have done more time in jail for threatening to prosecute a bank lawyer. No wonder OC is so messed up.

  • David Zenger

    Wierenga said in an email that they found “insufficient evidence the
    candidate (Janet Nguyen) knew of or was aware of the laundered funds.”

    So how hard did T-Rack & Co put the screws to these miscreants? Look at the sentence – a slap on the wrist. A couple years in the clink would have made these song birds sing.

    Preposterous. How and why would a bunch of ordinary people cook up a money laundering racket, for no apparent reason, just to help Janet Nguyen?

    • LFOldTimer

      And he’s only barred from being involved in political campaigns during his probationary period. I think it should be an automatic lifetime exclusion, as long as he lives in the USA. But I don’t make the laws. The politicians do that.

      • David Zenger

        So what was this guy’s motive for God’s sake? He just loves Janet Nguyen so much he’d risk jail to raiser her a few grand? And WHERE DID THIS MISCREANT GET THE MONEY TO REIMBURSE THE OTHER STOOGES?

    • Jacki Livingston

      They are lying through their caps. In 2013 and 2014, I provided the District Attorney’s office with documents showing the link between Janet Nguyen and a large number of fake donors, which was money laundering for the kickback donations from a large corporation of nursing homes in this county. I also gave them letters and emails that I had sent to the members of the board, to Tom Mauk and to other officials, regarding this. I provided them with evidence that an insider in higher management at SSA had doctored the CalWin system and the review process so that these facilities could continue to bilk the patients and taxpayers for more money. I showed them the legal data as to private lawsuits that were swept under the rug. Most of all, I showed them the definite links between these facilities and the major GOP power players, notably Nguyen, Spitzer and Moorlach, who were benefiting from this fraud and looking the other way. I showed them evidence of criminal abuse and neglect of these patients, all for the profit of these political higher ups. I still have every, single page. So, I call out T-Rack as a liar, a fraud and corrupt. He is either the single most incompetent DA in history, or he is feeding at the same trough as his little piggie nemesis, Spitzie. You do the math.

  • Bert Ashland

    Paul, if the FPPC says the Senator must return the money, I’m confident she will do so..but to whom should she send the money? The people that made the contribution or the guy that broke the law and was convicted? Does it seem right to give the convict his money back?

    • LFOldTimer

      At the very least Janet should donate the entire amount to a worthy cause that is not connected to any of her lobbyists or contributors. Otherwise IMO it taints her badly.

      • David Zenger

        “it taints her badly”

        How could you tell, taintwise?

        • LFOldTimer

          Good point. Just slapping on another coat of taint is undetectable unless it’s a fresh coat that hasn’t had a chance to dry. 🙂

    • Paul Lucas

      Bert she can donate it to the ROV or the FPPC to fund investigation capacity to monitor her own back yard. I know you ear money off of her and ancillary campaigns and effort so I’m not going to bother asking you to be ethical.

      • Bert Ashland

        What on earth have you been smoking Paul?

    • Paul Lucas

      that money is tainted. She should get rid of it.

  • Paul Lucas

    Come on man. Did Janet have o return the money or does she get to keep it?

    • LFOldTimer

      There is no mention of Janet returning the money. Apparently fruit obtained from the poisonous tree is allowed in politics. I’m not a bit surprised. Are you? More symptoms.

  • LFOldTimer

    But, of course, Janet is as clean as the wind driven snow. 🙂