File photograph of a casino trader collects chips astatine a roulette table. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)
SANTA ANA, Calif.—A 47-year-old Fountain Valley antheral has agreed to plead blameworthy to national offenses for operating amerciable gambling dens and paying implicit $100,000 successful currency bribes to a Santa Ana Police Department serviceman to debar instrumentality enforcement scrutiny of his underground casinos, according to a plea statement filed Oct. 6 successful national court.
Niem Ngoc Ha, besides known arsenic “Dung Body” agreed to plead blameworthy to conspiracy, operating an amerciable gambling business, and bribery, according to Thom Mrozek, the manager of media relations for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. In the plea statement filed successful Santa Ana national court, Ha admitted that helium opened and operated 4 amerciable casinos successful the Santa Ana area.
Ha admitted to conspiring with 3 others to run the casinos, which featured video gambling machines, generated thousands of dollars successful profits each day, and were the tract of assorted acts of violence, Mrozek said.
In 1 case, Ha directed a co-conspirator to physically battle a casino patron who had started a fight, and successful a abstracted incident, a idiosyncratic astatine different casino was changeable successful the neck, according to the plea agreement.
Ha besides admitted paying astir $128,000 to then-Santa Ana Police Department Officer Steven Lopez implicit the people of six months successful 2020. The bribes were paid successful an effort to support Ha’s casinos from instrumentality enforcement intervention, Mrozek said.
The 3 offenses Ha is facing cumulatively transportation a statutory maximum condemnation of 20 years successful national prison, according to Mrozek. Ha is expected to formally participate the blameworthy pleas successful tribunal successful the coming weeks.
The 3 different alleged co-conspirators are scheduled to spell connected proceedings successful May.