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    Garden Grove woman pleads guilty to role in management of illegal casinos
    • May 2, 2023

    SANTA ANA — A 41-year-old Garden Grove woman caught up in a crackdown on illegal gambling, extortion and drug trafficking in Santa Ana pleaded guilty Monday to a federal conspiracy charge.

    Honganh Thi Pham was scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 25.

    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.

    Phan 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–Mindy Bui, 37, of Westminster, who allegedly managed the casinos–Sammy Cardona, 36, of Santa Ana, who is accused of being an enforcer.

    Bui told Ha 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.”

    Also, Pham sent Ha a spreadsheet image Nov. 10, 2020, showing the casino made a $3,041 profit, prosecutors said.

    Pham and another co-conspirator also attempted to shuttle $7,322 in gambling profits from EZ Boba elsewhere on May 13, 2021, prosecutors said.

    Pham also sent Ha a spreadsheet showing $8,722 in profits from Willits on Nov. 13, 2020, prosecutors said. That same day, Pham and Ha discussed a police search of the casino and Ha told Pham to find a new home for Willits, prosecutors said.

    There was also evidence that Pham and Ha discussed a malfunctioning gambling machine at Asia on Sept. 10, 2020, prosecutors said. And Ha and others possessed gambling devices and $12,300 in cash at Asia on Feb. 16, 2021, prosecutors said.

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    ​ Orange County Register