Orange County

Woman Charged Again With Buddhist Temple Vandalism

A woman previously convicted of vandalizing and stealing statues from two Buddhist temples in Santa Ana was charged Friday with eight felony counts involving a similar vandalism spree that caused $100,000 in property damage.

Trang Thu Pham, 49, faces four counts of vandalism of religious property and four counts of vandalism causing $400 or more in damage, along with a sentence-enhancing hate crime allegation, stemming from the damage she allegedly caused this month at the Huong Tich Buddhist temple at 4821 W. Fifth St. in Santa Ana and at the Phuc Quana Buddhist temple at 12471 Euclid Street in Garden Grove.

Pham allegedly used a rock to chip off the hands and fingers on several statues at the Huong Tich temple on Aug. 8, 14 and on Tuesday. The vandalism at the Phuc Quana temple also occurred Tuesday, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos.

Santa Ana police last week said they had surveillance video of a woman suspected of being involved in the vandalism at Huong Tich and noted that she resembled Pham, who was previously convicted of vandalizing the same temple.

They deemed her a person of interest and asked for public help tracking her down, and she was arrested Wednesday.

Pham pleaded guilty in July 2017 to stealing two gold statues from the Chua Truc Lam Yen Tu Buddhist Temple at 1924 W. Second St. on Feb. 26, 2016, and returning to the same temple on March 6 of that year and stealing a third statue.

She was sentenced to two years in jail, but she had already served that amount of time in custody and was released.

In May 2015, Pham was convicted at trial of seven vandalism incidents from Dec. 18, 2014, through Jan. 6, 2015, at the Fifth Street temple in Santa Ana, Chrisopoulos said. She was sentenced to 268 days in jail.

Pham faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted of the latest charges, the prosecutor said.

Pham, who is being held on $300,000 in bail, listed her occupation as manicurist, according to jail records.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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