For release on March 1, 2013
Georg Behrens, Deputy District Attorney
Major Fraud Unit/Economic Crimes Group
SAN JOSE BUSINESSMAN AND ASSISTANT SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR DEATH BENEFITS EMBEZZLEMENT
A San Jose businessman and his assistant were sentenced this afternoon for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars by pocketing investments that were meant to cover payments to local Vietnamese families when their elderly relatives died.
Davie Ba Ngo, 53 and his assistant Stephanie Tuyet Le, 32, were sentenced in Santa Clara County Superior Court by the Hon. Jerome Nadler for crimes committed in 2010 and 2011 while Ngo was the manager of the business Concerned Members Committee (CMC). Ngo was sentenced to a prison term of three years. Le was granted probation and was ordered to serve a county jail term of six months.
According to Deputy District Attorney Georg Behrens, “Davie Ba Ngo systematically embezzled money from CMC and mismanaged the company to insolvency. Stephanie Le assisted him and participated in the embezzlement.”
Earlier this year, Ngo had admitted felony charges of Grand Theft by Embezzlement, Grand Theft by False Pretenses, Sale of an Unqualified Security, Fraudulent Securities Scheme, Money Laundering, Unlawful Structuring of Financial Transactions, and Passing Insufficient Funds Checks, and had admitted allegations that he had taken in excess of $200,000. Le had pled to a single felony charge of Grand Theft by Embezzlement.
Using a practice akin to life insurance, CMC made money by collecting an initial membership fee as well as annual and monthly dues from people who joined it as members. Many of the members, Vietnamese-speaking senior citizens, joined CMC in order to achieve peace of mind that the costs of their own funerals would be covered. As beneficiaries they designated their spouses, children or other family members who would have been obligated to pay funeral expenses were the assistance of such a fund not available.
Instead, the embezzlement drove the 11-year-old company out of business by June 2011. Many members received nothing and were not refunded their payments. Both Ngo and Le have been ordered to pay restitution.