Guard at O.C. retirement community pleads guilty to posing as Homeland Security agent

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Donovan Nguyen is shown in an undated photo. (U.S. District Court via Los Angeles Times)
Donovan Nguyen is seen in an undated photo. (U.S. District Court via Los Angeles Times)

A man who worked as a security guard at an Orange County retirement community pleaded guilty Wednesday to posing as a Homeland Security agent, officials said.

Donovan Pham Nguyen, 34, of Orange, pleaded guilty to one count of impersonation of a federal officer, according to the United State’s Attorney’s Office Central District of California.

Nguyen never worked for Homeland Security Investigations as he claimed, but was previously a privately contracted security guard at a DHS facility. He left that job in 2015 after allegations surfaced that he printed fake HSI identification documents, officials said.

Nguyen started working at a retirement community’s private security company in 2015, and throughout his time there, falsely told coworkers that he was a special agent with HSI, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Nguyen used the title on several occasions to conduct traffic stops of his coworkers, and to search them — neither of which he was permitted to do as part of his actual job.

Nguyen’s coworkers reported seeing an HSI badge, a DHS plaque and tactical gear, including a ballistic shield, inside his office, officials said. They also said Nguyen’s vehicle had red and blue lights and a siren, and that he handed out HSI memorabilia to people at work.

In his plea agreement, Nguyen also admitted that in May 2019, he falsely told U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service agents preparing to serve an arrest warrant that he worked as a special agent for HSI.

Additionally, he admitted to falsely telling a Riverside County District Attorney’s Office employee this June that he was an HSI special agent, and discussing a pending investigation – including HSI’s involvement – with the employee.

Nguyen is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on Feb. 3. He faces a maximum sentence of three years in federal prison.

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