Fugitive Arrested in Little Saigon

Times Staff Writer

A woman who allegedly participated in the beating of an off-duty New York City police officer with a metal bar stool during an early morning scuffle -- a 2002 incident that left the patrolman paralyzed -- was arrested Wednesday at a Little Saigon motel.

Acting on an anonymous tip, FBI agents and local authorities captured Uyen "Wendy" Nguyen, 28, at the Westminster Motor Inn, where she had been staying with a male companion, Ton Le, 28.

Le was charged with harboring a fugitive but apparently was not connected with the assault case, said Westminster Police Lt. Bill Lewis.

Nguyen has been sought since Nov. 19, 2002, when she and three men allegedly beat the police officer during an altercation at the Miss Saigon bar in Jersey City, N.J.

According to police, the tavern owner asked Uyen Nguyen and her companions to leave the bar at closing time. They did, but returned a short time later and struck the officer from behind, police said.

One grabbed a bar stool and smashed it into officer's neck, knocking him to the ground. The group allegedly took turns kicking and hitting the officer with the bar stool, police reported.

Police responding to a 911 call found Officer Hung Nguyen lying in a pool of blood. The officer was at the tavern to meet a friend who had recently arrived from Vietnam. He suffered two broken arms and was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Police arrested two suspects, but Uyen Nguyen and a companion, Hai Thanh Le, escaped.

Westminster police said they received an anonymous letter Oct. 8 stating that two fugitives were living in the area. Investigators said they located her car at a Beach Boulevard motel and devised a ruse to get her and her companion to come out of their room. They were arrested without incident.

Nguyen was booked at Orange County Jail on charges of attempted murder and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. The whereabouts of Hai Thanh Le -- the third suspect -- are unclear.

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