NEW BERN – The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that, Kiet Vo, 50, of Fayetteville, was sentenced by United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan to 18 months imprisonment for one count of Conspiracy to Conduct an Illegal Gambling Business. Maybe if he had just stuck to playing something like live blackjack online and done it in the right way, he wouldn’t be in the situation he is now. Earning money illegally is not worth going to prison for, no matter how you choose to do this.
In January 2015, with the assistance of confidential informants (CIs), surveillance, and undercover operations, law enforcement established that a number of illegal gambling businesses were in operation in Cumberland County, North Carolina. Each gambling business had multiple video gaming machines (VGMs) which were owned and supplied by Kiet Vo and his wife, Phuong Truong. CIs identified multiple co-conspirators who operated the various gambling businesses, or would drop off and/or pick up money from each location. CIs further noted, and a co-conspirator statement later confirmed, that all of the money made by the illegal gambling operations belonged to Vo, and the accounting or audit sheets, of each machine’s monetary transactions was performed by his wife. Investigation revealed that any profit from a gambling business was turned over to Vo. In turn, Vo would subtract the cost of the VGMs and, in some cases, pay the operating expenses of the establishment. In other cases, the operator of the establishment would be responsible for operating costs. Investigators established that the Vo organization, in total, would profit between $25,000 and $60,000 per week.
Between 2015 and 2017, cooperating defendants provided multiple statements confirming the roles and responsibilities of Kiet Vo and his wife. Statements confirmed that Vo controlled and directed the individuals at each location including the monetary split, the number of machines, and whose name the rent and/or utility bills would be in. Vo also directed multiple individuals in addition to his wife, to pick up and deliver money to and from each of the locations. Phuong Truong also directed the operators of each establishment in the collection of the money and while conducting the audits of each machine, including teaching others how to conduct the audits themselves. Additionally, Kiet Vo recruited other defendants and either encouraged or insisted that they open other illegal gambling businesses and/or maintain more VGMs.
Phuong Truong is scheduled to be sentenced during the July 10, 2018 term of court.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of Homeland Security. Assistant United States Attorney Ethan A. Ontjes represented the government in this case.