District attorney drops charges in anthrax scare

A U.S. Navy petty officer who vandalized his former Newport Beach apartment and left behind a jar full of a white powder labeled "anthrax" had his charges dropped Tuesday after complying with court orders.

Orange County prosecutors dropped misdemeanor charges of having a fake weapon of mass destruction and vandalism against Phong Huu Nguyen, 29, after he agreed to pay more $4,400 to authorities who responded to the anthrax scare and nearly $1,000 to the owner of the apartment complex.

In July 2009, Nguyen had been recently evicted from the Coronado apartment complex next to Newport Harbor High School. When maintenance workers went in to clean up, they found expletives and the numbers "666" painted on the walls, along with two jars full of a white powder labeled "anthrax."

The Orange County Sheriff's Department's hazardous materials team responded and determined the powder was harmless.

Ngueyn, an administrative assistant in a recruiting office at the time of his arrest, pleaded no contest to the charges in April and was ordered to pay damages and stay out of legal trouble until his hearing Tuesday, when his case was concluded.

— Joseph Serna

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