Like many crooked union office employees in recent years, Truong Nguyen had a gambling problem. His case comes with a unique twist: He was arrested at a casino. Nguyen, a firefighter/paramedic with the Norwell, Mass. fire department and treasurer of its union, Local 2700 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, on April 12 was taken into custody at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, and charged with cleaning out the union bank account to the tune of more than $46,000. He was arraigned in Hingham (Mass.) District Court, where according to his attorney he regretted his “unfortunate infraction.” He was held on $99,000 bail.
Nguyen, 35, a resident of Quincy, Mass., has been an employee of the Norwell (about 20 miles south of Boston) fire department for the last six years and its firefighters’ union treasurer for the last four. According to a police report, he wrote 24 unauthorized checks from the union’s bank account and closed out two union CDs worth at least $17,000 in order to cover gambling-related losses. The pattern of thefts, which began last October, was uncovered in early April when Citizens Bank notified the union president of an overdraft from an account that supposedly contained more than $40,000. Union officials subsequently handed over to police 24 cancelled checks, all made out and cashed by Nguyen. When Nguyen did not respond to calls by police or return to work, detectives obtained a warrant for his arrest. They learned from a source that he was likely to be at Foxwoods. It turned out to be a good guess.