Cuong Mach Binh Tieu was sentenced during the week to 220 months in prison for his leadership role in a large-scale racketeering and narcotics conspiracy, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.
“The four-year investigation by the FBI, DEA, California Department of Justice, Bureau of Gambling Control, and the IRS that gave rise to this case was a model of federal and state law enforcement cooperation,” said U.S. Attorney Haag. “The lengthy sentence handed down by Judge Breyer should send a strong message to those who would participate, structure, and lead organized criminal enterprises in our communities.”
Tieu, 42, of Hercules, California, was originally charged along with 14 other individuals following the March 2, 2011 execution of a series of arrest and search warrants across Northern California, including searches at Oaks Card Club in Emeryville, California, and Artichoke Joe’s Casino in San Bruno, California. Along with Tieu, the indictment charged other members of the criminal enterprise, including drug dealers, drug couriers, loan sharks, and casino employees. Tieu’s close associate, Skyler Chang, was previously sentenced to 144 months in prison by Judge Breyer for his role in trafficking methamphetamine and ephedrine for the organization.
On June 19, 2012, Tieu pleaded guilty to 10 felony counts, including conspiracy to conduct the affairs of a racketeer influenced corrupt organization (RICO), conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and ecstasy, and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The investigation revealed that Tieu served as a leader for a criminal enterprise that regularly used the cash drawers at both Oaks Card Club and Artichoke Joe’s Casino to finance illegal activity, primarily drug purchases. On June 30, 2009, Tieu used $30,000 from Oaks Card Club to purchase 25 kilograms of ephedrine, which he intended to use to manufacture methamphetamine and ecstasy. In addition to drug trafficking, Tieu’s criminal organization worked with casino employees to openly engage in loansharking on the floor with both casinos. The loan sharks regularly charged 10 percent interest a week for the loans distributed in the casinos.
The sentence was handed down by United States District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer. Judge Breyer also sentenced Tieu to a five-year period of supervised release and a $1,000 special assessment.
Aaron Wegner and Robert Rees are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the case, with the assistance of paralegal Michelle Alter and legal technicians Erica Doerr and Marina Ponomarchuk. The prosecution is the result of an investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, who worked together with the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Gambling Control, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The investigation was conducted and funded in part by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a multi-agency task force that coordinates long-term narcotics trafficking investigations.
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