A priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose was sentenced to 36 months in prison, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch for the Northern District of California.
According to documents and information provided to the court, from 2008 through 2011, Hien Minh Nguyen stole money that his parishioners donated to the Diocese of San Jose through cash and checks made as offerings during religious services. He deposited such checks into his personal bank account and used the funds for his benefit. He also wrote checks drawn on church business accounts to pay for personal expenses. Nguyen evaded paying income taxes on the money he stole, concealing his embezzlement from his return preparer. The court found that he embezzled $1,449,365 from the Catholic Church, and evaded $582,453 in individual income taxes that were due and owing to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
In addition to the term of prison imposed, U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman ordered Nguyen to serve three years of supervised release and to pay a total of $1,883,883 in restitution, including $434,518 to the IRS. Nguyen previously pleaded guilty to tax evasion and was convicted of bank fraud following a bench trial.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and U.S. Attorney Stretch commended special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and former Trial Attorney Gregory Bernstein of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Pitman and Thomas Moore, who prosecuted the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division’s enforcement efforts can be found on the division’s website.