San Jose priest gets 3 years in prison for embezzlement

Fr. Hien Minh Nguyen funneled more than $1.4 million into his personal bank account, lawyer says he believed he could make better use of the money for his parishioners than the diocese

Father Hien Minh Nguyen (image from brucegerencser.net)

As a priest for the Diocese of San Jose, 57-year-old Hien Minh Nguyen funneled more than $1.4 million in church donations into his bank accounts over a five-year period, but the princely sum sat mostly untouched, according to court records.

Tensions that Nguyen believed existed between the Vietnamese Catholic community in San Jose and the Diocese reportedly were what drove his criminal conduct. He believed that he could make better use of the money for his parishioners than the Diocese.

Whatever his motivations were, Nguyen now faces time behind bars. On Tuesday, a U.S. District Court judge ordered him to serve three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He also was ordered to pay back the embezzled money.

Jay R. Weill, Nguyen’s attorney, argued that his client should be sentenced to no more than 12 months and a day in prison. He pointed to his client’s work cleaning up “problematic situations” at the Vietnamese Catholic Center and helping Saint Patrick Cathedral erase an $860,000 deficit.

“For Father Hien, this has been a life-changing experience,” Weill wrote in his sentencing memorandum. “Criminal prosecution has damaged the very core of his well-being. He feels shame from the betrayal of his priestly vows. His self-worth and self-respect have been compromised and tarnished. Further, he is tormented every day with having let his family down, in particular, his younger siblings who have always looked up to him.”

Nguyen was ordered to pay roughly $1.9 million in restitution — $1.45 million to the Diocese and $435,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Because the embezzled funds sat largely untouched in his bank account, Nguyen has been able to fully repay the Diocese, according to court records. Weill said his client plans to use the $500,000 he posted as bail when he was arrested in 2015 to pay the IRS.

Full story at Mercury News.

Comments

comments

To add a comment, click on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ icons OR go further down to the bottom of comments to the Post your comment box.

Comments

  1. The. Bigger story might be in the ‘tensions allusion. When vietnamese catholics began arriving in the early seventies they were shocked by the language and images on american tv. The 60s had opened the floodgates. If vietnamese catholics have retained their catholic culture then we probably could not imagine what they think of the american catholic church

  2. Your Fellow Catholic says:

    Where was the parish council? Did they not realize that over a thousand dollars a day was missing from their parish?

    • YFC, how about where are the Bishops ? The same questions should apply about sodomites who promote what is evil ?

      • Your Fellow Catholic says:

        Is EVERYING about the gays for you Joe? You seem rather obsessed with the idea. This article has NOTHING to do with that issue.

    • YFC – Remember that unlike most houses of worship and indeed most NGO’s , in the Catholic Church we deal in a lot of CASH. I wonder if any forward thinking parishes of found a way to do away with this.
      PS: Please note that others here , Mike and Joe, are knee jerk blaming us gay people for this. I guess we’re responsible for every bad thing that’s happened since the Great Chicago Fire. .. Oh well…

      • Your Fellow Catholic says:

        C & H: There are best practices for handling collection moneys. They are basically chain-of-custody techniques similar to those used in law enforcement, and using multiple people to handle and count the monies, deposit them, with everyone singing the sealed bags. I’ve forgotten which role in your parish you have, was it handling collection money? In any case, I’d encourage you to research it for your own parish. The days of the basket going directly to the priests office have been over for years now. And then of course, one in the bank, the books and checking accounts should be under the control of the parish council and audited regularly just like any other corporation.

        • YFC – I never counted money , but when I was on the finance committee we had to correct the volunteers several times for not following procedure. Usually the excuse was that “no one else showed up and the parish secretary was busy and the money had to get to the bank” or some such. I felt like Simone Lagree making a big deal about it when procedures aren’t followed and everybody trusts every body, down the road one crook can take hundreds of dollars a week and it’ll be a long time before anyone notices.

          Oh Joe and Mike McD. It’ doesn’t matter if the crook is gay or straight (Sodomite, GILBERT, homo-Anal Coprophile Ephebophile, homo-harpey etc.) the money’s still gone.

      • GAY ? MORE LIKE SODOMITE. Stop killing the English language. And no I’m not obsessed with your life style, but I am obsessed with praying for your soul

        • Michael McDermott says:

          Good for you Joe – Don’t Let the GILBERT Gaystapo sanitize the language to make it about pushing their sick propaganda.
          I still don’t care for the term ‘Sodomite’ – as it lacks the Clinical Correct Analysis of discussing the infiltration of Homo-Anal Coprophile Ephebophiles in to the priesthood, and the huge harm to the Boys of the Church they have caused; along with the loss of Treasure that could have done so much good, as opposed to enriching Attorneys willing to do the necessary work our ‘leaders’ have so often avoided.

          Still – the Homosex Harpies who dive bomb these boards should either be required to Identify Who they Are and Who Pays them, or simply move on to their own propaganda networks and Leave Cal Catholic To be…

        • Joe,
          When you pray for homosexual persons, do you pray like the Pharisees [with self-righteous, empty words] or like Jesus [with true concern and care for souls]?

          • Steve, I hate the sin and not the sinner. I also instruct the ignorant.

          • Joe – When you yell “Sodomite” as a catchall for us I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say it suggests you hate us but it does, I think, express hostility for no reason. It’s archaic, kind of like referring to a African American woman as a “Negress,” and defines all of us by a particular sex act which not all gay men and no lesbians engage in. I’d personally appreciate it if you’d not use it here anymore. Thank you

          • Joe,
            If it’s true that you don’t hate the sinner, why did you “shout” the needlessly offensive term “sodomite”? There’re other much more suitable words to use. Using this term on a Catholic website makes the Mystical Body of Christ look like a bunch of immature haters. This harms the cause of Christ and His evangelization for which you are suppose to be a co-worker.

            YFC , you, and I are sinners. Do your comments help either him or you get into heaven?

          • Steve Seitz says:

            To prevent a possible misread, the last two sentences of my previous post were addressed to Joe.

  3. FrMichael says:

    “Tensions that Nguyen believed existed between the Vietnamese Catholic community in San Jose and the Diocese reportedly were what drove his criminal conduct. He believed that he could make better use of the money for his parishioners than the Diocese.”

    That’s about the craziest thing I’ve ever read! I know chanceries are hardly hotbeds of efficiency and virtue, but this priest is beyond delusional.

  4. So, the IRS appears to have claimed and now awarded $435,000 of contributions originally made to the Vietnamese Catholic Center which presumably is a non-profit church affiliated organization. Should those funds not have been returned to the Diocese or to the Vietnamese Catholic Center?

    • I agree. Generally in such cases, the DA would immediately either seize or freeze all assets, but the article leads one to believe that the priest used 500K of his own money to post bail. Makes no sense.

  5. So very sad. Hopefully, Father can have a positive impact on his fellow inmates. This should have been discovered much earlier!

  6. I believe the IRS [and the Revenue Code] says the embezzled funds are taxable income to Fr. Nguyen. Thus money due to IRS.
    More importantly, this is a classic example of terrible accounting practices in many Catholic dioceses. How did he get the money into his account for so long with no one noticing?

  7. Faithful and True says:

    Lift up the lid on each Diocesan money box throughout the State and you may be in for surprise! We pray that the light of God shine on all the evil done in the darkness of these present times.

  8. I have enormous sympathy for the reason stated by the priest—that he could do better with the money than the diocese–or Bishop McGrath.
    McGrath is a leftist who is hardly Catholic.

  9. Why doesn’t Bishop McGrath pastorally accompany this sinner and realize (a-la Amoris Laetitia) that in his concrete situation the priest was doing the best he could for his community, which is all God asks of us, and decline to press charges? So illegal aliens get a pass, divorced and civilly remarried get a pass, abortion-supporters get a pass, homosexuals get a pass, but an embezzling minority priest doesn’t get a pass? It’s all about money with Bishop McGrath. Don’t say we should be compassionate toward illegal aliens when you send this priest to jail.

  10. Anonymous 2 says:

    DSJ 2016 budget and financial reports (most recent available) contains many interesting details.

    The biggest issues seem to be the gross overhead of payroll costs and insurance. Lay pension costs alone are 14.65% of gross payroll, and (because DSJ must pay the medicare & SS costs), religious pension costs are about 22%. Also—ironically and perhaps just desserts—DSJ must pay the “Cadillac healthcare coverage tax” of Obamacare — everyone should thank big Obamacare promoter, Bp. Stephen “Bp.Bankrupt” Blaire. Thank Big Gov PJ too. It’s all there in the financial reports.

    My own rough analysis of their annual budgeting shows that maintaining the Chancery alone and its attendant offices and staffs are about 20-25% of…

    • Anonymous 2 says:

      ..your annual money to the ADA. Hooray.

    • Michael McDermott says:

      The Disgrace of “Professional Catholics” who have No Loyalty to the Church or its Magisterium, but instead see it as a Cash Cow to fund their radical leftist / gender feminist / homosex political pogroms, is one that needs to be ended.
      Our Popes have lamented such abuses, and the ongoing scandals of homosex harpies using Church Funds to pay for their perversions (Like the Vatican Orgies) is a disgrace that cries out for cleansing.

      As Bishop Barron has observed, the American Church is outraged over the Homosex Ephebophile Abuse Scandals that continue to harm the Church and its Faithful, and it is time that this loss of Treasure be Addressed – Because it is far more harmful than other forms of siphoning, which at least don’t ruing the…

  11. Michael McDermott says:

    Because it is Far More Harmful than other forms of Siphoning, which at least Don’t Ruin the Lives of Boys!

  12. $1.4 million. A drop in the bucket compared to CCHD, Catholic Charities, etc.

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.

Speak Your Mind

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.