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Vietnamese street gang members convicted in retribution killing

April 10, 2012 |  5:45 pm

Four members of a Vietnamese street gang were convicted Tuesday in the 1995 slaying of a fellow gang member who abandoned them during a robbery, Orange County prosecutors said.

The four men -- Anthony Paul Johnson Jr., 35, of Westminster; Giang Thuy Nguyen, 36, of Fountain Valley; Tam Hung Nguyen, 36, of Riverside and Truc Ngoc Tran, 34, of Santa Ana -- were each convicted on one count of murder and a felony count of conspiracy to commit murder in the  shooting death of Viet Nguyen on Feb. 25, 1995.

The men could receive life sentences, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said that on Feb. 24, 1995, the men robbed a Huntington Beach home but that Viet Nguyen fled because he thought someone in the house might have recognized him.

That evening, prosecutors said, the four met and decided to kill Viet Nguyen to prevent him from implicating the others should he be arrested in connection with the robbery.

The following morning, they allegedly convinced Viet Nguyen to joined them in an outing to buy drugs.

As Viet Nguyen drove north on California 73 in Costa Mesa, Tam Nguyen, who was riding in the back seat, said he felt ill, so Viet Nguyen pulled over to the shoulder. Tam Nguyen then pulled out a semi-automatic firearm and shot Viet Nguyen in the back of the head, killing him, authorities said.

The four later met at an Anaheim motel to come up with an alibi, authorities said.

Prosecutors said the men, to avoid retribution, told other members of their gang that Viet Nguyen had been killed by a drug dealer in Costa Mesa. The case remained unsolved until 2006, when authorities in Costa Mesa reopened the investigation.

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 -- Rick Rojas

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