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Woman Gets Year in Prison for Gambling Casinos in Santa Ana

Woman Gets Year in Prison for Gambling Casinos in Santa Ana

File photo of a judge's gavel. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

9/26/2023

Updated: 9/26/2023

SANTA ANA, Calif.—A 41-year-old Garden Grove woman caught up in a crackdown on illegal gambling, extortion, and drug trafficking in Santa Ana was sentenced to a year in federal prison on Sept. 25.
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter sentenced Honganh Thi Pham to one year and one day behind bars.
According to the defendant’s plea agreement, from April 2019 through August 2021 she conspired with three other defendants to operate an illegal gambling business.
Ms. Pham managed illegal casinos known as “nets” or “slaphouses” in strip malls and homes, including four in Santa Ana, prosecutors said.
The other co-defendants awaiting trial are Niem Ngoc Ha, 47, of Fountain Valley, who is accused of opening and running the four casinos, EZ Boba, Sharks, Willits, and Asia and Sammy Cardona, 36, of Santa Ana, who is accused of being an enforcer.
Co-defendant Mindy Bui, 37, of Westminster, who managed the casinos pleaded guilty and was sentenced Sept. 11 to one day, which she already had credit for awaiting trial.
Ms. Bui told Mr. Ha on Sept. 3, 2020, “that a fight had broken out among customers at EZ Boba, and Bui asked Ha to order Cardona to physically assault the customer that started the fight,” prosecutors alleged in the plea agreement.
“Ha agreed to issue the order to Cardona. On the same day, defendant informed Ha that Cardona was on his way to EZ Boba to physically assault the customer who had started the fight.”
Ms. Pham sent Mr. Ha a spreadsheet image on Nov. 10, 2020, showing the casino made a $3,041 profit, prosecutors said.
Ms. Pham and another co-conspirator attempted to shuttle $7,322 in gambling profits from EZ Boba elsewhere on May 13, 2021, prosecutors said.
Ms. Pham sent Mr. Ha a spreadsheet showing $8,722 in profits from Willits on Nov. 13, 2020, prosecutors said. That same day, Ms. Pham and Mr. Ha discussed a police search of the casino and Mr. Ha told Ms. Pham to find a new home for Willits, prosecutors said.
There was also evidence that Ms. Pham and Mr. Ha discussed a malfunctioning gambling machine at Asia on Sept. 10, 2020, prosecutors said. Mr. Ha and others possessed gambling devices and $12,300 in cash at Asia on Feb. 16, 2021, prosecutors said.
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