Woman accused of embezzling $1M heads toward plea agreement in York County

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

Phuong Nguyen-Davis allegedly stole close to $1 million from two companies in York County and Maryland.

Investigators say she siphoned the money from corporate credit cards while working in business office roles, first at a Hellam Township firm for about five years. After she was charged in that case last year, she allegedly moved on to the other employer and started embezzling money again within weeks.

In all, nearly $1 million was reported stolen between the two cases.

The 56-year-old Nguyen-Davis admitted to taking a fraction of that amount Monday when she appeared in court in Howard County, Maryland.

Phuong Nguyen-Davis

She could be set to make another admission in York County next month.

So far, Nguyen-Davis faces two years of incarceration stemming from the Maryland case, and a restitution there that would fall on top of an already hefty sum she owes from an even earlier history of embezzlement in York County.

The investigations into Nguyen-Davis began after executives at Advanced Fluid Systems Inc. became wise to unauthorized charges to company credit cards in May 2022.

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Company president Jim Vaughn reported suspicions to Hellam Township Police as Nguyen-Davis walked away from the company and never returned.

Investigators found she allegedly embezzled $915,045 from the business while she worked there from 2017 through last May.

Hellam Township Police Department in Hellam Township, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Police said she funneled about half the total by charging existing corporate cards, as well as several others she opened, to an online business she apparently helped set up. She then used AFS to pay the credit card bills.

Charges were also discovered for flights, car leases, appliances, groceries, medical appointments and electric bills to a home in York Township, investigators allege.

As police began investigating AFS’ losses, Nguyen-Davis was hired as an office manager at aerospace company Aerolab, in Howard County last June.

Within weeks, Aerolab’s CEO spotted fraudulent charges to company debit cards. He reported a loss of $11,670 to Howard County police.

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Charges included those for an Airbnb stay, airline tickets, hotels and Amazon purchases, according to Howard County Police. Nguyen-Davis was also accused of making several charges to a PayPal account and then using company money to pay those bills.

She allegedly left the company when the CEO sought to confront her about the charges.

Nguyen-Davis was first charged in York County last August, facing one felony count of theft, a felony count of accessing a counterfeit device, and six more felony counts of illegal access of a device.

Howard County prosecutors followed a couple months later by charging her there with two counts of theft and one of embezzlement.

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She pleaded guilty in that case Monday, admitting to one count of theft scheme between $1,500 and $25,000.

Yolanda Vazquez, spokesperson for the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office, said the plea agreement calls for a five-year term where three years would be suspended, and Nguyen-Davis would serve two years of incarceration. She’s scheduled to be sentenced there June 5.

That time would run at the same time as the sentence she could receive in York County. She intends to plead guilty and could face a two-and-a-half-to-five-year sentence, according to information provided by Vazquez.

Matthew Sembach, Nguyen-Davis' attorney in York County, said a plea offer is in place while work is underway to resolve the case.

"We are working out a plea agreement in the hopes of making Advanced Fluid Systems, its employees and Mr. Vaughn as whole as possible," said Sembach, chief deputy public defender. "Obviously, this is an enormous amount of restitution and, given the other cases Ms. Nguyen-Davis has, it’s going to take a substantial amount of time to accomplish this goal."

Kyle King, spokesperson for the York County District Attorney’s Office, said Nguyen-Davis has a guilty plea scheduled for April 25 in the York County Court of Common Pleas.

The Maryland sentence calls for Nguyen-Davis to serve five years of supervised probation, avoid the Aerolab property and pay the company $11,670 in restitution.

That amount would be in addition to $157,000 in outstanding restitution the York County Clerk’s Office is working to collect from Nguyen-Davis related to previous theft cases.

Phuong Nguyen-Davis from 2014

A cost contempt case was filed against her in 2019 on allegations she failed to repay the balance stemming from three other local theft cases dating back to 2013.

Nguyen-Davis pleaded guilty in each of those cases. She was sentenced in March 2014 to jail time and probation, plus she was ordered to pay the restitution, which amounted to $167,819 after adjustments.

She's made close to $10,500 in payments since 2014, court documents show.

At a March 3 hearing, Court of Common Pleas Judge Clyde Vedder didn't find Nguyen-Davis in contempt for the outstanding balance. He ordered her to start making monthly payments of $300 through wage garnishment from her current employer beginning April 1, documents show.

In both current criminal cases, Nguyen-Davis remains free on bail, according to court documents.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.