7 On Your Side
Two arrested for scam targeting Vietnamese families
SAN JOSE (KGO) -- Two people are under arrest in a suspected fraud and embezzlement case targeting hundreds of Vietnamese families. The victims thought they were providing security for their families after their death, but what they got instead was anything but.
Thanh Le of San Jose paid thousands of dollars over six years to join the Concerned Members Committee (CMC). The father of three's hope was that his funeral expenses would be paid for after his death.
But CMC suddenly shut its doors without warning, leaving its members wondering if they would ever see a return on their investment. Thanh's son, Michael Le, says he's more worried about his parents than himself, "Right now they are feeling like they lost everything and that makes me feel sad too because they hurt inside."
Davie Bah Ngo and Stephanie Le appeared in Santa Clara County Superior Court Thursday following their arrests the day before. Ngo is charged with seven counts of fraud and embezzlement. He is accused of using $200,000 of the company's money for personal gain.
"The members who paid into the company are victims," prosecutor Georg Behrens said. "Also, the beneficiaries who were to get the payouts under the contracts that the members signed with the company are also victims."
Attorney Tam Nguyen has been advocating for the victims and spoke at Thursday's arraignment, "The estimated loss is about $2 million," Nguyen said. "After the judge considered all the factors, he decided to raise the bail from half million dollars to one million dollars for Mr. Davie Ba Ngo."
Stephanie Le was released on her own recognizance. She faces one count of embezzlement.
One of the victims, Yen Cat, also showed up on Thursday's hearing, "Because I demand fairness," Cat said. "That is the name of the association. I demand fairness."
Members of the Vietnamese American community had accused the DA's office and San Jose Police Department of ignoring their concerns. That's a charge the office has denied from the beginning.
"We worked together on this case, steadily, methodically. And at this point we have the evidence we believe supports the charges," Behrens said.
Ngo faces a maximum of 11 years in state prison while Le faces one year. Both are being represented by the public defender's office. 7 On Your Side was unsuccessful in getting a comment from the defense.
fraud, scam, san jose, 7 on your side, michael finney
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