SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Finance Services Manager for the City of Placentia (Placentia) was arrested last night for embezzling $4.3 million from the city. Michael Minh Nguyen, 34, Irvine, is 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. If convicted, Nguyen faces a maximum sentence of 29 years in state prison and a fine of $8.6 million. The defendant was arrested last night, April 13, 2016, by Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Bureau of Investigations, with the investigative assistance of the OCDA Public Integrity Team. Nguyen is being held on $4.3 million bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned sometime today, April 14, 2016, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
Nguyen was hired on April 21, 2008, by Placentia as their Financial Services Manager, which allowed him access to city accounts. He was responsible for wire transfers and keeping financial city ledgers.
Between April 22, 2015, and April 12, 2016, Nguyen is accused of making 17 wire transfers from a Placentia account to several other accounts personally belonging to him and other recipients. In the past four months alone, the defendant is accused of wire transferring $2 million from the Placentia account. On April 11, 2016, he is accused of wiring over $300,000 to a personal account, and the next day, on April 12, 2016, he is accused of again wiring another $1.5 million. Shortly thereafter, with the help of the FBI Cyber Task Force, the $1.5 million that was successfully transferred was frozen and reverted back to Placentia. Nguyen is accused of concealing the embezzlement by altering the financial ledgers. The defendant is accused of embezzling approximately $4.3 million in the above time frame by depositing the money into his own personal accounts.
On April 12, 2016, Placentia found the unauthorized wire transfers and contacted the OCDA to report the fraud. Placentia is assisting in the investigation, which is ongoing. Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Damon Tucker at (714) 648-3615.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.
Orange County District Attorney / Case # 16NF1108 / April 14, 2016