Ex-Little Saigon Official Loses Liquor License Bribery Appeal

Bad news arrived this week for a former Little Saigon government official convicted of bribery in 2017: he will continue to call the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles home. 

The U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit rejected Dave Phuong Dinh Vo’s claims of receiving an unfair trial.

Using a confidential informant posing as a shady businesswoman seeking to guarantee liquor license approval in the City of Westminster, the FBI arrested Vo after he accepted $15,000 over the course of four August 2011 meetings.

Vo, who lost his California law license last year, argued that U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna should not have permitted the government’s introduction of statements made by the informant about the bribe.  

Prosecutors noted that before his arrest Vo, a city planning commissioner, had advised the informant to “stay quiet” about “the under the table deal” and “don’t mention what’s going on.”

But the Ninth Circuit panel of judges Johnnie Blakeney Rawlinson, Carlos Bea and Benjamin H. Settle agreed that while Selna erred regarding the informant issue, his mistake was “harmless” to the interests of justice.

Vo, 45, also claimed he was wrongly denied the ability to raise questions about the informant’s “disreputable background” during the trial inside Orange County’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.

“Without more specific allegations, Vo cannot prevail,” the panel declared.

Vo’s 18-month prison sentence is currently scheduled to end on September 20.

He originally faced a maximum 10-year punishment.

Five years ago, the FBI exposed a Westminster cop who used his job to aggressively pressure a Little Saigon bikini-bar owner into paying extortion. 

CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.

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