Friday, January 20, 2012

Woman Convicted of Stealing Pechanga Casino Prize WInnings Pleads Guilty

You can't even enjoy winning at Pechanga, when thieves are around. If the security guards don’t beat you down, or get carjacked by a tribal member, the scammers come after you.

A woman who stole a Pechanga casino jackpot winner's prize money by convincing the victim she could invest it for an easy profit, in what turned out to be a scam, pleaded guilty today to grand theft and was immediately sentenced to three years probation.

Josefina Tuyet Nguyen, 40, of Westminster could have faced four years in prison had a jury convicted her of the single felony count.

Under a plea deal with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, Nguyen dodged jail time in return for agreeing to make full restitution to the victim. Deputy District Attorney Paul Svitenko said the plea agreement was not expected, and the defense made the offer.

Superior Court Judge Elaine Johnson ordered the Department of Probation to conduct an analysis of the defendant's finances to determine her ability to repay the money and over what period of time.

According to sheriff's officials, Nguyen was present last March when a 43-year-old Temecula woman gambling at the Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula won $50,000.

Nguyen approached the victim, whose identity was not released, and began spinning a yarn about how the woman could make $20,000 to $30,000 in a few months by backing an exporting venture, said Sgt. Patrick Chavez.

The defendant and victim became well-acquainted, he said, and the latter was eventually persuaded to provide Nguyen with $40,000 of her winnings for the enterprise, which purportedly involved shipping electronics to Vietnam.

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