SANTA ANA, Calif. – A jury convicted a former FBI agent and another man of plotting to rob a drug stash house in Southern California using a machine gun.
The verdict was read Wednesday after jurors reached their decision late Tuesday in the trial of 44-year-old Vo Duong Tran, a former agent from New Orleans.
Tran and Yu Sung Park, 36, were arrested in July and accused of planning to rob what they thought was a drug stash house in the Orange County city of Fountain Valley. The site was actually part of an FBI sting operation.
"I think it's disappointing that (Tran) is a former agent and he turned to this kind of conduct," Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Keenan said. "He and Mr. Park were dangerous people."
Tran's wife, Nia Bui, held the couple's 1-year-old son on her lap and sobbed loudly while the verdict was read. Outside the courtroom, Bui said she believes her husband was set up by the FBI.
"He's a good father, he's a good person. He'd never kill people or rob," she said. "I can't believe they do this to him. They break families like this."
During the trial, prosecutors played recorded conversations in which men they identified as Park and Tran were discussing whether to shoot residents of the drug house.
Jurors deliberated for a day before convicting the defendants of conspiracy to obstruct commerce by robbery, interstate travel to commit a crime with a firearm, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime and possession of a machine gun. Each faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison at sentencing, set for June 15.
Tran's attorney Alex Kessel said his client "will exhaust any remedial measures to overturn the verdicts."
Tran was an FBI agent in Chicago for more than a decade before being fired in 2003. Kessel has said Tran was fired for identifying himself as an agent while on suspension, though he was never convicted of the allegation.
The arrests of Tran and Park followed a federal probe in which conversations between Tran and an FBI informant were secretly taped for nearly six months.
Authorities said Tran flew from New Orleans to raid the home, where the informant had told him there was $300,000.
Authorities said they found a machine gun, rifle equipped with a silencer, handguns, bulletproof vests, fatigues, zip ties, black ski mask and more than 600 rounds of ammunition in a rental car and hotel room the men used.
Defense attorneys said Tran was passionate about his law enforcement career and was playing along with the robbery scheme to gather evidence on informant Alex Dao so he could turn him over to authorities.
Yolanda Barrera, Park's attorney, said it was hard to understand how the jury could seriously consider the massive amount of evidence and testimony in just a day. "This was a four-week trial and the jury basically deliberated for five hours," she said.