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Army Captain Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Property Related to Defense Contracts in Support of Iraq War Defendant Admits Stealing In Excess of $690,000

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 07, 2009
  • District of Oregon (503) 727-1000

PORTLAND, OR—Captain Michael Dung Nguyen, 28, of Ft. Lewis, Wash., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Ancer L. Haggerty to the crimes of theft of government property and structuring financial transactions. Nguyen is scheduled for sentencing on March 1, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.

In pleading guilty to the offenses, Nguyen admitted that while on deployment to Iraq, he stole and converted to his own use approximately $690,000 in U.S. currency. Nguyen gained access to the currency in his capacity as the Project Purchasing Officer in the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army. The currency was derived from Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds. CERP funds are the property of the United States and are managed by the Department of Defense. The currency was intended as payment for security contracts with the Sons of Iraq as well as humanitarian relief and reconstruction programs.

Nguyen transported the stolen currency into the District of Oregon by mailing it to himself at his family’s Oregon residence prior to his return from Iraq. Shortly after he returned from Iraq, Nguyen opened new bank accounts at Bank of America, Washington Mutual Bank, America’s Credit Union and Heritage Bank, and proceeded to deposit $387,550 of the stolen CERP currency into those accounts in Oregon and elsewhere. Between June 9, 2008 and Sept. 26, 2008, Nguyen made repeated deposits of stolen currency in a manner that was intended to evade federal reporting requirements for the deposit of large amounts of money.

After depositing the money in the accounts, Nguyen purchased a 2008 BMW and a 2009 Hummer H3T, in addition to purchasing computers, firearms, electronics and furniture. During the execution of a search warrant, investigators discovered over $300,000 in stolen CERP currency hidden in the attic of Nguyen’s Portland family home.

At sentencing, the maximum penalty for each of the crimes of conviction is ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000. In addition to pleading guilty, Nguyen agreed to forfeit all the stolen currency, as well as all of the personal property purchased with the stolen funds.

The investigation was initiated by the Portland office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, following the discovery of large and frequent currency deposits and substantial expenditures above Captain Nguyen’s legitimate income level. The investigation was joined by the FBI, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit, and the Department of Defense’s Criminal Investigative Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.

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