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

  • Kevin Kigan

    Cities must not be allowed to hire thier own auditors. It’s the fox and the hens again. Cities decides who will be on the auditor team and basically tells them what the conclusions will be. Auditors will have to comply to keep the business, simple! Auditors rely on old CAFER reports instead of re-creating the wheel. CAFER doesn’t not have a strict government standard the anyone must follow, not like the GAAP, its free for all. These issues must be corrected to prevent this from happening again in Placentia and all other cities.

  • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

    “Property losses of over 3.2 million” … did he intern or work at a neighboring city before? Like Garden Grove? Awful young to know all those ropes on his own. He has a family. It makes it much more tragic.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Very rarely is government corruption a “lone wolf” scenario.

    I suspect the web includes more than one.

    How did this “Super Nguyen” get a top City job appointment at 25 years old? Hmm

    There is more to this story.

  • Greg Diamond

    “The Placentia Papers”: The Little City of Big Dreams

  • LFOldTimer

    Does anybody happen to know if this guy’s a registered Democrat?

    Just curious what prompted the DA investigation.

    • Paul Lucas

      Why would you ask that when its always the republicans who get in these types of scrapes? Like the GOP fetish of trying to ban transgendered people from bathrooms when 100% of those arrested in bathrooms for sexual offenses have been republicans. Seriously, try and police your own people before lobbing these types of screeds.

      • Cynthia Ward

        Paul, I think what LF Old Timer was trying to say was Tony only pursues Dems, not that only Dems are guilty.

        • LFOldTimer

          And you would be correct, Cynthia.

          Pssst….Paul. I feel the same about the GOP as I do the Democrats. Both suck. If you haven’t figured it out yet it’s a one party system.

          I outgrew claiming one party was better than the other.