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Gang suspects plead guilty in C.R. burglary

By Dave Gosch
Gazette staff writer
August 25, 2000 11:45 AM

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Five of six alleged Asian gang members have pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary charges in connection with breaking into two homes of Asian business people in Cedar Rapids.

The sixth man, Chien Quang Le, 33, of Des Moines, is in a Bismarck, N.D., jail on a burglary charge. Linn County Attorney Denver Dillard expects Le to be brought to Iowa after he is sentenced on the North Dakota charge.

All six defendants were originally charged with two counts of third-degree burglary in connection with burglary of the homes of David and Victoria Pei and of Li Jian, owners of area restaurants, on Aug. 5, 1999.

In each of the cases, one burglary count was dropped.

The complaint against the men said, "Officers learned in the course of their investigation that Asian-born business owners are frequently targeted for burglaries by Asian gang members."

Victoria Pei returned to her home in southwest Cedar Rapids shortly after noon Aug. 5, 1999, to find two strange cars in her driveway. A man ran from her open front door and got into one of the vehicles, and the two cars drove off. Pei called police and provided the license number of one of the cars.

Pei and her husband, David, own Pei's Mandarin restaurants in Cedar Rapids.

The cars eventually were stopped on Interstate 380 at Wright Brothers Boulevard. Officers found a cash bag in one of the vehicles with receipts from the Buffet King restaurant in Marion.

Police contacted Li Jian, the restaurant's owner, who returned to his home to find it had been burglarized.

On Monday, Ken Thanh Nguyen, 26, and Trun Hoai Trinh, 23, both of Des Moines, pleaded guilty in Linn County District Court to the third-degree burglary charge.

Trinh was sentenced to up to five years in prison, while Nguyen received a suspended sentence and three years' probation.

Tommy Tung Le, 24, of Des Moines, has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced Sept. 27. He probably will receive a deferred judgment, Dillard said.

Ducanh Minh Le, 25, and Thien Hoai Trinh, 26, both of Des Moines, also have pleaded guilty. Ducanh Le was given a five-year suspended sentence and placed on probation. Trinh was given a deferred judgment and placed on probation.