Placentia Finance Manager Accused of Embezzling $4.3 Million

Placentia's finance services manager was due in court Thursday after being arrested on suspicion of embezzling $4.3 million from the city, authorities said.

Michael Minh Nguyen, 34, of Irvine, was arrested Wednesday and charged with 17 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds with sentencing enhancement allegations for aggravated white collar crime exceeding $500,000 and property loss more than $3.2 million, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Nguyen is accused of making 17 wire transfers from a Placentia account to several personal accounts and to others beginning April 2015 through Tuesday, prosecutors said.

Nguyen, who was hired in April 2008, was responsible for wire transfers and keeping the city's financial ledgers, which allowed him access to city accounts.

In the past four months, Nguyen is accused of wire transferring $2 million from a city account. On Monday, prosecutors say he allegedly wired over $300,000 to a personal account and wired another $1.5 million the next day.

Shortly thereafter, with the help of the FBI, the $1.5 million was frozen and given back to Placentia, prosecutors said. City officials said they have been working closely with the District Attorney's Office to seek recovery of all misappropriated funds and address misuse of taxpayer funds.

"This goes completely against the values of our City and the positive strides we have made during the last year," Placentia Mayor Jeremy Yamaguchi said. "Any misuse of our taxpayers' funds is adverse to the values and commitment that we strive for as a City."

Nguyen is being held on $4.3 million bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond.

If convicted, Nguyen faces a maximum sentence of 29 years in state prison and a fine of $8.6 million.

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