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United States v. Ngyuen

January 25, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David O. Carter United States District Judge


Before the Court are two motions brought by Defendant Tan Duc Nguyen ("Defendant" or "Nguyen"): (1) a Motion for Bill of Particulars (Dkt. 36); and (2) a Motion to Suppress (Dkt. 42). After considering the moving, opposing, and replying papers, as well as the parties' oral argument, the Court GRANTS the Motion for Bill of Particulars and DENIES the Motion to Dismiss.

I. Background

On October 1, 2008, Nguyen was indicted to a single count of tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant under 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3), which inter alia prohibits:

"misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to . . . hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation[,] supervised release, or parole, or release pending judicial proceedings." In relevant part, Nguyen is charged with misleading a California state investigator with the intent to obstruct the discovery and transfer of information to federal investigators.

Nguyen is a one-time Republican Party candidate who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2006 against incumbent Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez in California's 47th Congressional district. The instant charges arise out of a letter mailed to Hispanic-surnamed registered voters in the 47th Congressional District in the State of California prior to the Fall 2006 Congressional elections. See Dkt. 1. The letter was apparently signed by an individual named Sergio Ramirez with a header indicating that its origin was an organization named the California Coalition for Immigration Reform. See Exhibit D to Motion to Dismiss. California state investigators discovered and translated the Spanish language letter, which purportedly informs registered voters that:

This letter is been [sic] sent to you, because you were registered to vote recently. If you are a citizen of the United States, you are kindly asked to participate in the democratic process of voting.

You are also being informed that if you are in ths country illegally or if you are a legal resident, voting in a federal election is a crime, which may result in incarceration, and you will indeed be deported for voting, when you do not have the right to do so.

Also, you are being informed that the government of the United States is implementing a new computer system, with which to verify the names of all the new registered parties who vote in the coming elections of October and November. Organization [sic] who are against immigration, might request information from this new computer system.

Unlike Mexico, there is no incentive for voting in this country. There is no voting registration card in the United States. Therefore, it is useless and dangerous to vote, in any election, if you are not a citizen of the United States.

Do not mind any politician that tells you otherwise. Said politicians are only looking after their best interest. They only want to win the elections, with total disregard to what might happen to you.

See id.

October 25, 2006, Special Agent Shannon Williams with the Attorney General's Office for the state of California obtained a search warrant for Nguyen's two home addresses and campaign headquarters. See Exhibit A to Motion to Dismiss. Special Agent Williams' affidavit in support of her application for a search warrant stated that she was first alerted to the letters by several concerned voters on or about October 17, 2006. In response to voters' complaints and, out of concern that the sending of the letters could constitute a violation of California Election Code sections 18540 (use of threats to influence voting), 18502 (interference with an election), and 18543 (challenging a person's right to vote). Special Agent Williams proceeded to interview the chairperson and CEO of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, the organization identified on the letters' letterhead and return mailing address, who denied knowledge of the letters and noted that the letterhead used by the letters was similar, but distinct, from letterhead used by her organization.

Special Agent Williams spoke with the operator of a mass mailing service based in Huntington Beach, CA, who acknowledged mailing the letters for a fee and directed her to Defendant. Special Agent Williams and another state investigator also spoke with an employee at a company that compiles lists of registered voters and the employee recounted Nguyen's interest in a list of registered Democrats ...

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