Undone by compulsive gambling habit: Hiep Cong Van and Thy Minh Phan have been sentenced to several five plus years in federal prison for swindling a retiree out of $3 million and gambling it away in Las Vegas
Gambling-addicted Las Vegas couple, Hiep Cong Van and Thy Minh Phan, are headed to a combined 58 months incarcerated in federal prison after tricking an elderly man into loaning them $3 million, according to The Oregonian.
41-year-old Van and his partner Phan, 39, boosted the huge sum from the victim, identified only as R.W. by pretending the money was going to fund the operating of a landscaping business in Colorado. It was also going to cover some legal fees for the business
Instead the couple used the stolen funds to live large in Las Vegas, gambling at the Aria, Bellagio, Caesars Palace and MGM Grand.
Van and Phan spent more than three years “bleeding [R.W.] for all that he had,” Assistant U.S. Attorney, Scott Bradford, told the federal court in Oregon Thursday.
R.W. who allegedly met Van through the business before moving to Oregon in retirement, wired the funds to Van and Phan in Colorado and Nevada. He also purchased cashier’s checks, according to the outlet, and sent some money by mail.
Wisely, R.W. had the ‘gambler’ couple sign a contract stating they would repay the loans with interest.
Scam leader, Hiep Cong Van was sentenced Thursday, to three years and one month in prison, a year in a residential reentry center,and will be required to attend treatment for his compulsive gambling addiction.
The court having determined that the couple failed to uphold their end of the deal, Van was sentenced Thursday to 37 months in prison. Though less than the term prosecution was seeking, Van’s defense had asked for the same length of time as co-defendant Phan, who was sentenced in November to 21 months in federal prison.
The prosecution reportedly asked for a sentence of four years and nine months, because ‘Van controlled a majority of the communications with R.W.’
The prosecution also noted that after entering a cooperation agreement, the 41-year-old violated the conditions of his pretrial release by leaving his home in Colorado and traveling to California.
During that time he’s said to have gambled away more than $10,000.
In addition to his time in prison, Van will serve a year in a residential reentry center where he’ll undergo treatment for his gambling addiction.
Van’s co-conspirator Thy Minh Phan, has already been sentenced to serve 23 months in federal prison
Asking the court for leniency van said: “I know what I did was wrong,” he said. “I am truly sorry, and I regret that for the rest of my life.” To the victim he apologized: “I also want to truly apologize to the victim and what I have caused,” Van said.
“I lost his trust. I took his dignity, and I have lost his friendship.”
The judge urged Van to turn his remorse into something positive, and take advantage of counseling programs in prison and when he gets out.
“You can wallow in it, or you can do something about it,” Brown said.
“You committed a crime that caused a devastating loss to a perfectly innocent man who’s not likely to be repaid,” U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown said during sentencing.
“The man put faith in you…because he trusted you. And you repeatedly abused that trust.”
The Oregonian reports that Van also assaulted Phan during the scheme.
Phan now living in Walla Walla, Washington, was convicted and sentenced in November to serve 21 months in a federal prison. She’s set to begin serving her time next week, the paper reported.