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San Jose priest who stole $1.4 million in church donations sentenced to federal prison

A priest in San Jose was sentenced to three years in prison this week for embezzling more than $1.4 million from parishioners’ donations and then failing to pay taxes on the stolen money, federal authorities said.

Hien Minh Nguyen, 57, was convicted in March of bank fraud and tax evasion for failing to pay nearly $600,000 in income taxes on the money he stole from Vietnamese Catholic Center for the Diocese of San Jose parishioners.

According to the criminal indictment, Nguyen was responsible for depositing parishioners’ checks and cash donations in a church-controlled bank account. Instead, he endorsed the checks, lied to bank employees and deposited the money into his personal accounts instead.

Nguyen stole the money between 2008 and 2011 and was found out by a tip to authorities, officials said.

Nguyen was sentenced Tuesday to three years in federal prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution to the diocese and more than $400,000 to the IRS.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

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