Vietnamese American monk detained without bail for stealing $150,000 from temple

Thanh Nien News

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The most senior monk of at the Vietnamese Buddhist Association in Southwest Louisiana was charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his temple to fuel a gambling addiction.
The blackjack-crazed Buddhist monk was ordered held without bail Tuesday after he was arrested at LaGuardia Airport, New York on Saturday, the Telegraph reported.
Le, 45, will be returned to Louisiana to face wire fraud charges in connection with the betrayal of the Vietnamese Buddhist Association there where he is the top monk.
"The money was stolen for the defendant's entertainment," said Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Matthew Haggans.
He was nabbed Saturday after flying in from Texas and preparing to transfer to a flight to Canada, according to court papers.
Le had previously confessed to local police that he was looting the temple's account since 2011 for blackjack sprees at the L'Auberge Casino in Lake Charles, La. While he earned $1,000 a month in salary, he dipped into the pot of donations from congregants for gambling.
"Le stated that he always went to the casino alone to prevent members of the Buddhist community from knowing what he was doing," court papers state. "It was his practice to gamble in deserted spots in the casino to not be spotted by members of the congregation."
Bank records obtained by authorities showed that Le allegedly withdrew more than $370,000 from his personal accounts and from ATMs at the casino.
Around $150,000 of those was from donations, officials said.
Two cousins in Houston who were willing to sign a bond for Le's release changed their minds Monday night after their parents objected.

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