Little Saigon Politicians Linked To Alleged Police-Tied Loan Sharking Operation
A Little Saigon businessman accused by the FBI of using a Westminster Police Department officer as an enforcer in an illegal, loan-sharking operation does not want his upcoming jury to know about his close associations with two local Republican political figures.
The lawyer for Kevin Khanh Tuan Do--who was arrested last August with accused accomplice cop Anthony Duong Donner--told U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter this week that federal prosecutors should be blocked from informing jurors about Do's ties to Westminster City Councilman Andy Quach and former councilman Tyler Diep.
Do attorney Shaun Khojayan is also asking Carter to block evidence of witness statements tying his client to violence--including at Little Saigon coffee cafes--in the collection of debts as well as his his "lunches, drinks, campaign contributions or even extra-ordinary contributions for the assistance in the granting of permits" by Quach, Diep--both mentored by ex-Little Saigon Assemblyman Van Tran--and other unnamed police officers.
Khojayan specifically wants one recorded telephone conversation blocked from admission during the scheduled June 17 trial.
In that November 2012 call, Khanh "Diem" Charles called Do and Donner's alleged victim and, according to court records, stated, "When dealing with [Do], try not to piss him off. You are messing with the Devil. Do is not smuggling anything but he like [sic] to work with police. That's why he spends money to buy police protection. There's no one out there so he's the king. I want to be honest with you. If it weren't for the friends in the police force, [Do] would have been killed on Bolsa [Avenue] a long time ago."
Khojayan claims admission of that evidence would unfairly prejudice the jury about Do because the "statements are untrue, vague and do not reflect violence to [the loan-sharking victim] or harm to [the victim's] business if the debts were not paid.
According to the defense lawyer, Assistant United States Attorney Brett A. Sagel has agreed not to introduce evidence in the case about Ocean Blue Restaurant, Asian criminal street gang Si Dou, Donner's gun collection or a suspicious shooting at the loan-sharking victim's cafe, Cutie.
Tyler Diep (middle)
The FBI claims it has solid evidence that Do's operation used Donner in his police uniform and on duty to harass the victim into paying 60 percent annual interest.
According to campaign finance disclosure records, Do has given campaign contributions to Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen, who is running for an open state senate seat in November against community college trustee and former state Assemblyman Jose Solorio.
In late May, Carter refused a joint prosecution/defense request to move the trial to August.
Government officials worry that communist-scarred Vietnamese immigrants who own Little Saigon businesses have been afraid to report to the FBI when local police officers illegally serve as thugs for loan sharks.