Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Convicted of Bank Fraud

Hien Minh Nguyen

Hien Minh Nguyen, former pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in San Jose, California and the director of the Vietnamese Catholic Center was convicted Tuesday of bank fraud. The Mercury News reports:

Prosecutors said Nguyen received donations from parishioners at St. Patrick’s, some of which he deposited into his bank account, and also signed checks from the VCC’s bank accounts to pay his expenses.

In addition, Nguyen deposited 14 separate checks made payable to the VCC into his bank account.

Nguyen, who was charged with 14 counts of bank fraud in December 2015, pleaded guilty on Tuesday. In August 2016, he also pleaded guilty to four counts of tax evasion.

The maximum penalty for bank fraud is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine or twice the gain or loss from the offense. Tax evasion carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In 2016, Forbes reported:

A Catholic Priest from the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, California has pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Father Hien Minh Nguyen, age 56, admitted that over a period of four years, he stole money from his parishioners. He took the money parishioners had donated to the Diocese for himself. And, from 2008 through 2011, he willfully evaded paying income taxes on it.

Although the money was for the church, Father Nguyen admitted that he deposited it into his personal bank account. Then, he did not tell his income tax return preparer about it. He did not keep records of the donations he stole, and he filed false income tax returns that did not report the money. Although the Priest plead guilty to the tax charges, Father Nguyen has pleaded not guilty to the bank fraud charges. So those charges remain pending.

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