Damn, Trang Thu Pham really has a grudge against someone affiliated with a Santa Ana Buddhist temple.
The 49-year-old Santa Ana resident was charged Friday with four counts of felony vandalism with damage of $400 or more and four counts of felony vandalism of religious property with sentencing enhancement allegations of vandalism, grand theft, hate crime with prior convictions and hate crime against the same Buddhist temple, which in this case is Huong Tich Buddhist Temple in Santa Ana.
That familiar ring in your ear is from our previous reports about Ms. Pham and Huong Tich.
She was busted in January 2016 and quickly convicted and thrown in jail for tossing eight glass bottles that damaged statues at the place of worship at 4821 W. 5th St., Santa Ana.
Asked why she did it, Pham reportedly said she had no problem with Buddha but someone at Huong Tich.
She was apparently so pissed off that while she was out on parole, she stole two statues from Chua Truc Lam Yen Tu Buddhist Temple at 1924 W. 2nd St., Santa Ana. Security cameras captured that theft and the lifting of a third statue at the temple.
The footage of the female thief matched Pham’s booking photo, and she was arrested again. Among the counts in that case were hate crime allegations, and the defendant faced up to six years in state prison. On July 5, 2017, she was sentenced to two years in county jail but released with credit for time served.
It was apparently all quiet on the temple front until Aug. 8, 14 and 21 of this year, when rocks were used to break off the hands and fingers of multiple statues at Huong Tich, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, which adds that also on Aug. 21, someone vandalized and damaged property at Phuc Quana Buddhist Temple in Garden Grove. Property damage at both locations was estimated at $100,000.
Investigators from the Santa Ana and Garden Grove police departments looked at surveillance footage from the temples, Pham was recognized and she was arrested on Aug. 22, states the OCDA.
She was scheduled to be arraigned Friday on the charges that could send her to state prison for 12 years with a conviction.
“An attack on one religion is an attack on all,” says District Attorney Tony Rackauckas in a release from his office. “We must stand up to bigotry and respect everyone’s right to worship.”
A statement from county Supervisor Andrew Do’s office adds, “The targeting of Buddhist temples is cause of great concern for the Vietnamese-American Community in Orange County.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.