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Victim reacts to burglar's sentence

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Crime > Nguyen begins process of returning stolen goods

By Tris DeRoma

Convicted burglar Aaron Nguyen was still giving items back that he stole from his neighbors the week of his sentencing, which was Tuesday in Los Alamos First Judicial District Court.

The latest item Nguyen returned was an iPad, which he stole from the Pfaff household about a year ago — while mother Leslie Pfaff, her two teenaged daughters and their friends were upstairs. From Pfaff, Nguyen purloined three laptops and their friend’s iPad. He also took some exercise weights.

“I’ve been turning the house upside down looking for my daughter’s wrist and ankle weights,” Pfaff said. “(Nguyen’s) father returned them with the iPad, the power cord and its cover on Monday. I was like ‘whoa this is where they are.’ That’s a pretty random thing to take from someone’s home.”

Apparently, Nguyen showed up with his father, Pfaff said.

“It wasn’t awkward at all, and his dad was very apologetic,” she said.

Tuesday, Nguyen was sentenced to five years’ supervised probation, the first year being monitored by a GPS tracking device, counseling and paying restitution to his victims.

“If Nguyen stays out of trouble for the term of his probation, the charges will be dismissed,” said his attorney, Steve Aarons. “As for restitution, he may owe more than $1,000, perhaps several, we don’t know for sure.”

Between his June bond hearing in magistrate court and his recent appearance in district court, Nguyen attended a family reunion in Mexico as well as a tour of the University of California at Santa Cruz campus, a college in California he was set to attend –– before he was caught by police.

Now, according to Pfaff, he will be staying in-state and maybe attending the University of New Mexico.

The Nguyens may even be moving to Santa Fe, though no one knows for sure.

Pfaff hopes Nguyen uses his “second chance” to change his ways and move on to a better life.

“He got a golden ticket, and I hope he uses it well,” she said.

“As one of his victims, you go through the gamut of anger, frustration and the recovery of my stuff, even though it’s not anywhere near the condition it was in before he stole it.”

During the court proceedings since his arrest in May, Nguyen’s lawyer made it public that Nguyen was suffering from bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorder, and that these disorders most likely contributed to his crime spree.

While Pfaff said he may have been suffering from something, perhaps depression, she also said she thinks there’s something more to it.

She mentioned eyewitness reports from her daughter’s friends that he was showing off the iPad to his friends. At his sentencing, she said, according to his own lawyer, Steve Aarons, Nguyen came to court wearing an expensive pair of sunglasses that also turned out to be stolen goods. Aarons used that as part of his defense that he truly was suffering from some deep-seeded mental issues.

“I think it was just a game to him,” Pfaff said. “I don’t blame the city of Los Alamos in any way shape or form for his behavior, but this is a wakeup call. There is very little here for these kids to do. The miniature golf course is not enough. There needs to be more activities and events for teenagers.”

When reached for comment about Nguyen’s sentencing, his father, Dinh Nguyen, said that his family would be releasing a statement sometime soon.

“For now, I would just like to thank the community for their support during this difficult time,” he said.