October 11, 2010

Vernon Police, feds foil attempt to extort Vernon monk- Connecticut

Journal Inquirer Towns Vernon Cops, feds foil attempt to extort Vernon monk

An attempt to extort $30,000 from a Vietnamese Buddhist monk associated with a Vernon temple was foiled by a sting operation in which Trumbull police joined with the U.S. Secret Service, FBI, and other police authorities, according to Trumbull’s deputy police chief.

“Another Vietnamese person got him to make compromising statements on a video and threatened to use them to destroy his temple,” said Deputy Chief Michael Harry.

Harry didn’t have the name of the Vernon temple. But the only Vietnamese Buddhist temple in Vernon is the Phap Hoa Buddhist Temple at 85 Prospect St.

Harry said the initial threats occurred Sept. 28 at a Trumbull home where the monk had gone to visit after bringing his mother to Bridgeport to visit a friend. The monk formerly had a temple in Bridgeport, and a woman involved in the incident — Thuy Nguyen, 33, of Bridgeport — was a former follower of his, according to the deputy chief.

Harry said the compromising statements were “suggestive comments” about a woman, explaining that Buddhist monks are supposed to remain pure verbally as well as physically.

Charged in the incident were Tuan Nguyen, 32, a man who lives in the Trumbull home where the initial threats were made, and Thuy Nguyen, the deputy chief said.

But he added that Tuan Nguyen confessed after his arrest and made a statement that “negates the girl’s involvement.” As a result, he said, police will ask prosecutors to revisit the charges against Thuy Nguyen.

Harry added that the two are unrelated, although they have the same last name.

The deputy chief said the Secret Service was generous enough to lend police the $30,000 used in the sting operation, which occurred Friday in the parking lot of the Westfield Trumbull shopping mall. He added that the federal agency also sent two agents to make sure the money was recovered.

The FBI also participated in the operation, contributing a Vietnamese-speaking agent, Harry said. He said that the Bridgeport Narcotics Task Force contributed surveillance equipment, although the case didn’t involve narcotics.

Thuy Nguyen accepted the money and was arrested, Harry said. He said authorities subsequently executed a search warrant at Tuan Nguyen’s home and obtained the confession.

He said Thuy Nguyen initially told police that she took the monk to the Trumbull home because she was moving into it and wanted him to bless the house. But he said the initial statements weren’t entirely truthful, and police now “tend to doubt that.”

Tuan Nguyen was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny, unlawful restraint, and threatening and was released on $30,000 bond, the deputy chief said.

Thuy Nguyen was charged with first-degree larceny, unlawful restraint, and threatening and was released on $10,000 bond, the deputy chief said.

Both are due in Bridgeport Superior Court on Oct. 18.

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