Army captain pleads guilty to stealing $690,000

AP News
Posted: Dec 07, 2009 6:45 PM

An Army captain from Oregon pleaded guilty Monday to charges that he stole nearly $700,000 from the U.S. government while serving in Iraq.

U.S. District Court Judge Ancer Haggerty set sentencing for March 1 after Capt. Michael Dung Nguyen entered guilty pleas to theft and money-laundering charges. The maximum sentence for each offense is 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

A federal grand jury indictment alleged that between April 2007 and February 2009, the 28-year-old stole more than $690,000 in U.S. currency entrusted to him as the battalion project purchasing officer in Muqdadiyah, Iraq.

The funds were designated for payment of security contracts as well as for urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction.

Prosecutors say Nguyen mailed the stolen money to himself at his family's Portland home before he returned from Iraq to Fort Lewis, Wash. Then, prosecutors say, he opened new accounts at several banks and deposited $387,550.

The indictment alleges Nguyen used some of the money to buy new vehicles along with computers, electronics and furniture.

During a search of the family's home, investigators found more than $300,000 of the stolen currency hidden in the attic, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Nguyen agreed to forfeit all of the stolen money as well as all of the personal property purchased with the stolen funds, the department said.

The investigation of the theft was initiated by the Portland office of the IRS after the discovery of large, frequent currency deposits and substantial expeditures "above Capt. Nguyen's legitimate level," the agency said.