Placentia Finance Manager Arrested on Embezzlement Charges

Placentia Finance Manager Michael M. Nguyen has been arrested on charges of embezzling $4.3 million from city coffers, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday.

Nguyen, a 34-year-old Irvine resident, is facing 17 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds and sentencing enhancements for committing aggravated white collar crime amounting to over $500,000 with property losses of over $3.2 million, a news release from the DA’s office states. He is facing up to 29 years in state prison and an $8.6 million fine.

Nguyen was arrested Wednesday night by officials from the DA’s bureau of investigations and is being held on $4.3 million bail, according to the news release. However, he can only post bond if he proves the bail money is from a “legal and legitimate source.”

Placentia hired Nguyen to be its financial services manager in 2008, giving him access to city accounts, the DA’s statement said. Nguyen was responsible for “wire transfers and keeping the financial city ledgers.”

The DA’s office claims that between April 22, 2015 and this Tuesday, Nguyen made 17 wire transfers from a city account to “several other accounts personally belonging to him and other recipients.” He covered up the embezzlement by altering the financial ledgers, the statement said.

On Tuesday, city officials discovered Nguyen wired $1.5 million from Placentia, but the transfer was frozen with the help of the FBI’s Cyber Task Force and returned to the city, according to the DA’s office. City officials are cooperating in the investigation, which is ongoing.

Nguyen is scheduled to be arraigned sometime on Thursday.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek