New charges filed against ex-Placentia finance manager accused of embezzling $5.2 million

Prosecutors filed new charges Friday against a former finance manager accused of embezzling $5.2 million from the city of Placentia.

Michael Minh Nguyen, 34, is charged with an additional 19 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, 66 felony counts of money laundering, one felony count of making a non-sufficient funds check and two felony counts of falsifying records, according to officials at the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

A judge on Friday also issued a temporary restraining order on the assets held by the district attorney’s office that were seized from the defendant.

In April, officials initially charged Nguyen, of Irvine, 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 of the new charges, he faces a maximum sentence of 97 years and eight months in state prison and a fine of $10.3 million.

Nguyen is being held on $4.3 million bail and if he posts bond, must prove the money is from a legitimate source. He is scheduled to appear at a pretrial hearing on July 22 at the North Justice Center in Fullerton.


Placentia officials hired Nguyen as their financial services manager in 2008, allowing him access to city accounts.

Between Jan. 27, 2014, and April 12, 2016, Nguyen is accused of making 36 wire transfers from a Placentia account to accounts belonging to him and other recipients. In the last four months alone, the defendant is accused of transferring $2 million from the city’s account.

On April 11, he allegedly wired more than $300,000 to a personal account, and the next day, on April he is accused of wiring $1.5 million more. Working with the FBI Cyber Task Force, Placentia officials later recovered $1.5 million of the stolen funds, saying they believe Nguyen manipulated computer software to alter ledgers to hide his alleged crimes.

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