Former Miracle Mile director makes $40,000 repayment

STOCKTON (,  Oct 7,2017): — Former executive director Mimi Nguyen gave a $40,000 check to the Miracle Mile Improvement District last week, more than two months after she reportedly admitted buying about $40,000 worth of personal items with the organization’s money.

Denise Jefferson, the interim director of the business district, said Friday that the organization still believes Nguyen should be prosecuted.

“She did a great deal of damage to the organization, not just financially but with the relationships we have with the community,” Jefferson said. “It has definitely tarnished the Miracle Mile Improvement District.”

The Stockton Police Department has not arrested Nguyen to this point. An auditor is poring over MMID credit card bills to determine the exact amount Nguyen took.

“It’s still an active investigation,” said Officer Joseph Silva, a police spokesman. “The investigators are still doing a forensic examination of the financial documents.”

Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor said, “We can’t comment on ongoing cases.”

Nguyen, 31, resigned under pressure from the MMID on July 24. She did not respond to a phone message Friday afternoon, but attorney Gil Somera said it was always Nguyen’s intention to make restitution.

“I think from the beginning of this case Ms. Nguyen has wanted to reimburse her former employer for personal expenses,” Somera said. “I don’t know what she’s going to be charged with at this time, but she has always taken the position that she wants to make sure it was paid back.”

Meanwhile, the attorney for the MMID said its top officials believe Nguyen should still be prosecuted.

“My understanding is the board will continue to press the charges even with full reimbursement,” attorney Mike Hakeem said.

The amount Nguyen took remains to be determined. Hakeem and Somera said they expect the audit to be completed within weeks.

Nguyen was the MMID’s director for 4½ years. She received a $54,000 annual salary and medical benefits. Nguyen originally offered to repay $35,000 to the MMID in July. She made the $40,000 repayment Sept. 29, according to Jefferson and Hakeem.

As for the ongoing investigation, Jefferson said the MMID did not receive all credit card statements relevant to the case until Sept. 28. Those statements are now in the hands of the auditor and Stockton police investigators, Jefferson said.

The restitution Nguyen has paid provides her no legal guarantee of a more lenient punishment in the event she is found guilty in a court of law. But it could improve her prospects.

California Penal Code 513 says repayment of embezzled funds “authorizes the court to mitigate punishment, in its discretion.”

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