For release on August 9, 2012
Georg Behrens, Deputy District Attorney
Major Fraud Unit/Economic Crimes Group
SAN JOSE MAN CHARGED WITH DEATH BENEFIT EMBEZZLEMENT
A San Jose man was arraigned Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012 on felony charges that he embezzled many Santa Clara County Vietnamese families out of at least $200,000 by pocketing money their relatives had invested with him to pay for their own funerals and other costs.
Davie Ba Ngo, 52, the manager of the now-defunct San Jose company “Concerned Members Committee,” (CMC) is charged with Theft by Embezzlement, Theft by False Pretenses, Sale of an Unqualified Security, Fraudulent Securities Scheme, Money Laundering, Unlawful Structuring of Transactions, and Insufficient Check Funds. There are approximately 300 victims, many of whom are seniors.
A co-defendant and fellow CMC employee, Stephanie Le, 31, of San Jose, is also charged with Grand Theft. Ngo is being held on $1 million bail. If convicted, Ngo faces up to 11 years incarceration. Le could face up to a three-year sentence.
According to Deputy District Attorney Georg Behrens of the Major Fraud Unit, “Mr. Ngo’s actions have caused harm to the members of Concerned Members Committee and their families, who trusted him to manage the company and its money. He abused that trust.” In a practice akin to life insurance, CMC – from 2000 to 2011 - collected membership fees along with monthly and annual dues from its “members” in exchange for the promise to pay a lump sum “funeral benefit” to their beneficiary when they died. The amount of the payment depended on the length of time for which the member had been paying dues. Promised pay outs ranged from $6,000 to $14,000. The District Attorney advises the public to be cautious about such investments. In this case, when “members” died, many families and other beneficiaries were not paid, or only received partial or delayed payments, according to the charges. An investigation by the District Attorney’s Office led to charges that Ngo embezzled the “members’” money from CMC. The defendants were arrested Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012 by Santa Clara County investigators and Sheriff’s deputies. If anyone has any information on this case, they may contact D.A. Investigator Bob Traskowski at (408) 792-2938