LAFAYETTE, La. — A Buddhist monk pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge he embezzled more than $200,000 from his Louisiana temple to feed a casino gambling habit.
Khang Nguyen Le, 36, will be sentenced June 27 after his guilty plea to one count of wire fraud, according to U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley’s office. Le faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Le served as presiding monk at the Vietnamese Buddhist Association of Southeast Louisiana Inc. in Lafayette from 2010 until October 2014, when he stepped down amid the investigation.
Finley’s office said Le withdrew nearly $264,000 from temple accounts and used it for gambling at a Lake Charles casino.
In a court filing, a federal agent said Le “admitted to having a gambling problem” and told investigators that he spent up to $10,000 playing blackjack during frequent casino trips. His indictment last year says Le lived and worked at the temple and earned a salary of $1,000 per month.
Le was arrested in September at LaGuardia International Airport in New York after he got off a flight from Dallas, before he could board a flight bound for Toronto, according to court records.