SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — Placentia’s finance services manager faces charges of embezzling $4.3 million from city funds, authorities said Thursday.
Michael Minh Nguyen, 34, of Irvine, was charged with 17 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and property loss over $3.2 million, Orange County District Attorney officials said.
Nguyen was arrested Wednesday night by the DA’s Bureau of Investigations and is being held on $4.3 million bail that must be paid from a legal and legitimate source of funds. He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.
Prosecutors say that between April 22, 2015 and April 12 of this year, Nguyen made 17 wire transfers from a Placentia account to several accounts that belonged to him and other recipients. In just the past four months, Nguyen allegedly transferred a total of $2 million from the Placentia account – more than $300,000 on April 11 and another $1.5 million on April 12.
The $1.5 million transfer was frozen and reverted back to Placentia, with help from the FBI Cyber Task Force.
The embezzlement, which Nguyen allegedly concealed by altering the financial ledgers, was found by city officials on April 12. City Administrator Damien Arrula said Nguyen was immediately suspended after the embezzlement was uncovered and has since been terminated.
“It is of grave concern to learn that a city employee would exploit his position and knowledge of our internal controls for personal gain,” Arrula said in a statement.
Prosecutors say the investigation into the embezzlement is ongoing. Anyone with information about the case can contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Damon Tucker at (714) 648-3667.