Houston immigration lawyer Trang Le Nguyen, who was charged Monday in a massive marriage fraud scheme, has pleaded not guilty, and was released on a $100,000 bond as her case proceeds through federal court.
Nguyen, managing partner in Pham & Nguyen Law Group in Houston, is one of 96 defendants facing 206 charges total in the case, in which the government alleged a large-scale conspiracy to create sham marriages between immigrants and U.S. citizens to circumvent immigration laws. For her alleged role in the scheme, Nguyen faces charges of obstructing and impeding the due administration of justice, tampering with a witness, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
“She’s pleaded not guilty, and we are in the process of proceeding in discovery in the case,” said Nguyen’s criminal defense attorney, Jed Silverman.
Silverman, founding attorney of the Law Offices of Jed Silverman in Houston, is board-certified in criminal law. He earned his law degree from Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1999.
The indictment in United States v. Nguyen alleged Nguyen sent mail as part of the marriage scheme, submitted documents with forged signatures and false statements, and told a witness to go into hiding and quit providing information to law enforcement, which caused the witness to refuse to testify before a grand jury.
Court records show that the government first requested a bench warrant for Nguyen’s arrest April 30, and had requested the court to detain her. The warrant was returned executed May 8. However, Silverman said that Nguyen was not arrested, and instead made a first appearance and arraignment that day. Although Magistrate Judge Frances H. Stacy did rule to temporarily detain nine co-defendants, the court decided to release Nguyen on a $100,000 bond. At the same hearing, Nguyen pleaded not guilty to her charges.
The next action in her case is set to occur May 28, Nguyen’s deadline to file pretrial motions.
Nguyen earned her law degree from South Texas College of Law Houston in December 2010, and became licensed in Texas in 2011, according to her State Bar of Texas profile, which noted she doesn’t have any public disciplinary history.
Her profile on her law firm’s website said she practices immigration law, and international business and investments. She was the owner and president of Taura Inc., a Houston-based oil and gas importing and exporting business. Nguyen, who is fluent in Vietnamese and English, has been active in charitable work to help Vietnamese children obtain education and health care, her profile said. She’s also a host of a legal advice program on a Vietnamese American Networking Television channel.
At this point, it’s not clear whether Nguyen is the only attorney to be charged in the marriage fraud case. Only 50 of the 96 defendants had been arrested as of Monday, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office press release. The indictments of the rest of the defendants still remain under seal.