Buddhist Monk Gambled Away Temple Funds At CasinoMarch 18, 2016 2:09 pm
Buddhism teaches its disciples to resist desire and temptation, but for one practising monk at the Lafayette’s Temple Tinh Do in Louisiana the temptation to gamble proved all too much. As a result, Khang Nguyen Le, 45, stole as much as $260,000 from the temple he presided over in order to fund his gambling habit, and frequent visits to the L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles.
Khang Nguyen Le held his position of responsibility at the Vietnamese Buddhist Association of Southeast Louisiana Inc from 2010 to October 2014, for which he was paid $1,000 a month. In 2011, however, Le began drawing money from the accounts he controlled using ATMs located at the casino, and it would seem that he was particularly fond of playing blackjack, too. In fact, Le would often spend as much as $10,000 over a three-day period at an out-of-the way table in the casino, and as an extract from the court papers explains:
“Le stated that he always went to the casino alone to prevent members of the Buddhist community from knowing what he was doing. It was his practice to gamble in deserted spots in the casino to not be spotted by members of the congregation.”
One particular withdrawal of $4,280, however, alerted the federal authorities to his fraudulent actions, and he was subsequently arrested at LaGuardia airport in New York City while on his way to purchase a used car in Canada.
Initially, the Vietnamese-speaking monk claimed not to understand the charges brought against him, but has since entered a guilty plea, and now faces up to 20 years behind bars, in addition to a $250,000 fine.
Le is currently being held without bail, and ahead of his June 27th trial date has admitted to having a gambling problem, but did state that he would often return some money back into the Temple’s bank account whenever he had a winning night at the casino. Commenting on his client, attorney Donald Mayeaux said:
“He’s a good man. I hope he will be able to come back here.”