PLACENTIA (CBSLA.com) — Prosecutors filed 89 more felony charges Friday against a former Placentia finance services manager accused of embezzling nearly $5.2 million from the city.
Michael Minh Nguyen, 34, of Irvine, was arrested in April on a warrant charging him with 17 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, with sentencing enhancement allegations for aggravated white collar crime exceeding $500,000 and property loss of more than $3.2 million. Nguyen now faces 106 felony counts, including 66 counts of money laundering, Senior Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche said.
Prosecutors also got a temporary restraining order on all of the assets so a third party cannot lay claim to the money and it could be available for restitution once the case is complete, Labreche said.
If convicted, Nguyen faces up to 97 years and eight months in prison and a $10.3 million fine.
Prosecutors have recovered almost $3 million, Labreche said.
If city officials receive all of their insurance claims, the final loss to the city might be about $1 million, Labreche said. That does not include legal fees, he added.
Nguyen, who was hired in April 2008, allegedly made 36 wire transfers from a city account to several accounts of his and others between Jan. 27, 2014, through April 12, Labreche said. This year, prosecutors say Nguyen wired $2 million from the city account, and on April 11 he wired more than $300,000 to a personal account.
On April 12, he allegedly wired another $1.5 million, Labreche said. That transaction, however, was frozen and the money was returned to Placentia, Labreche said.
The FBI alerted city officials of the suspicious transactions. The city asked the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to take over the investigation to avoid any conflict of interest, Labreche said.
Prosecutors have not revealed the alleged motive. Labreche said Nguyen did not appear to be living a lavish lifestyle.
Investigators are working to determine if anyone else was involved in the embezzlement, but no city officials are under suspicion, Labreche said.
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