PHILADELPHIA—Members of a violent robbery gang were sentenced to prison today for five armed home invasion robberies of business owners in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland between October 2009 and April 2010. In all of the robberies, the defendants assaulted the victims in their own homes. U.S. District Court Judge Legrome D. Davis sentenced four defendants today and one yesterday. Three other defendants await sentencing and one defendant was sentenced in April.
The defendants—Teo Van Bui, 37, of Philadelphia; Buu Huu Truong, 36, of Philadelphia; Den Van Nguyen, 41, of Philadelphia;, Thach Van Nguyen, 34, of Wall Township, New Jersey; and Sidney Biggs, 46, of Laurel, Delware—each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. All of the defendants, except for Sidney Biggs, also pleaded guilty to robbery and related firearms charges. Bui was sentenced to 96 months in prison and $15,300 restitution; Truong was sentenced to 240 months in prison and $115,000 restitution; Den Van Nguyen was sentenced to 180 months in prison and $15,000 restitution; Thach Van Nguyen was sentenced to 80 months in prison and $112,000 restitution; and Biggs was sentenced to 60 months in prison and $8,500 restitution. Tahn Le, 44, of Philadelphia, was convicted at trial of conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, and firearms charges. He was sentenced on April 23, 2012, to 400 months in prison.
Bui participated in two robberies, one in Pocono Township, Pennsylvania, and one in Delmar, Maryland. At the time of the offense, he was on supervised release from a prior federal conviction. On August 16, U.S. District Senior Judge Harvey Bartle, III sentenced him to an extra 12 months in prison for that violation.
On October 31, 2009, Bui, Truong, and Den Van Nguyen, along with Hung Vuong who is awaiting sentencing, invaded the home of a business owner in Delmar, Maryland. The intended victim was not home at the time, but his elderly parents and two young children were. The robbers used a ruse to enter the home, then Truong held the elderly mother at gunpoint while Vuong brandished a knife. The pair bound the victims’ hands and feet with duct tape, collected all the valuables they could find, and fled with cash, jewelry, and other items worth several thousand dollars. Biggs helped plan the robbery and received some of the proceeds.
On January 26, 2010, Bui, Truong, Den Van Nguyen, and Tahn Le, who was sentenced in April, committed an armed home invasion robbery at the home of a business owner in Bartonsville, Pennsylvania, while Thach Van Nguyen acted as a look-out and getaway driver. After the owner and his two children arrived home, the masked robbers ran into the house and pushed the owner to the floor. Bui and Truong were both armed with handguns. They bound the owner with duct tape and threatened to kill him if he did not tell them where he kept his valuables. The robbers stole a digital camera, jewelry, and cash. Pocono Township Police responded to the scene quickly and captured Bui as he tried get away through the back door of the house.
On January 29, 2010, Truong, Thach Van Nguyen, and Le robbed the home of a business owner in Freehold, New Jersey. Truong knocked on the front door, spoke with the owner, pulled out a gun, forced his way in, and tied up the victim. He threatened to shoot her if she did not cooperate. Le entered the home while Nguyen acted as a lookout. Truong and Le then forced the owner to open her safe and collected her valuables. They even tried to steal the victim’s wedding ring using soap in a failed attempt to get it off her finger. They escaped with cash, two luxury watches, a cell phone, and a designer purse.
On February 24, 2010, Truong, Thach Van Nguyen, Le, and Denise Novelli, who is awaiting sentencing, robbed the home of a business owner in Monroe Township, New Jersey. The business owner’s young daughter, nephew, and babysitter were home at the time. Novelli knocked on the front door while Truong and Le hid nearby. Nguyen stayed in the car and acted as a lookout. Novelli shouted through the door that there was trouble outside in an attempt to get the babysitter to come out. When the babysitter went to investigate, Truong hit her on the head, forced her into the house, and tied up her up. Truong and Le searched the home and stole cash and jewelry amounting to several thousand dollars.
On April 30, 2010, Le, Novelli, and Hung T. Ngo, who is awaiting sentencing, tried to rob a home in Falls Church, Virginia. Novelli knocked on the door and a young man opened it. While the victim was distracted by Novelli, Le forced his way in to the home. The man called out to his sister, who was in the home, to call the police. A struggle ensued during which Le savagely beat the victim with a revolver. The victim required treatment at a local hospital for his injuries. Le and Novelli tied up the victim as he lay on the floor in a pool of his own blood. Le and Novelli ran into the house to see if anyone else was home. When they could not find the other person, they fled the house before stealing anything.
Defendants Hung T. Ngo, 39, and Hung Vuong, 32, both of Philadelphia, and Denise Novelli, 21, of Laurel Springs, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. Vuong also pleaded guilty to a gun charge. Ngo is scheduled to be sentenced on August 29, 2012; Novelli is scheduled to be sentenced on September 10, 2012; Vuong is scheduled to be sentenced on October 10, 2012.
The cases were investigated by the FBI, the Pocono Township Police Department, the Freehold Borough (New Jersey) Police Department, the Monroe Township (New Jersey) Police Department, Wicomico County (Maryland) Bureau of Investigation, Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fairfax County (Virginia) Police Department. Additional assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Philadelphia Police Department; and the Pennsylvania State Police. The cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Livermore and Trial Attorney John S. Han of the United States Department of Justice, Organized Crime and Gang Section.