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Pot bust nets 10 arrests

Operators of a Market Street, Kingston, nail salon were among those taken into custody. They face 10 years in prison if convicted.

KINGSTON – The operators of a Market Street nail salon are facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison after being charged Thursday with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute more than 1,000 marijuana plants.

Tommy Van Nguyen and his wife, Xuan Nguyen, were among 10 people taken into custody by state police and agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

Details of the case, including the exact number of plants, where they were found, and what led to the arrests, were not available Thursday because the affidavit of probable cause in support of the arrests was sealed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In addition to Van Nguyen and his wife, the other defendants are: Manh Van Nguyen, My Van Nguyen, Binh Van Nguyen, Elisa Do, Thanh Van Nguyen, Lan Thai Vu, Duc Van Nguyen and Hoan Van Nguyen.

The defendants were brought before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Thomas Blewitt on Thursday afternoon, who explained the charges. Some of the defendants did not speak English and required an interpreter.

Elisa Do and Tommy, Manh, Binh and Thanh Van Nguyen were all ordered to remain in federal custody pending detention hearings set for Monday and Tuesday. Xuan Nguyen, Lan Thai Vu and My, Duc and Hoan Van Nguyen were all released on their own recognizance.

Tommy Van Nguyen and his wife have operated the nail salon for several years. They made the news in September 2001 when they reported receiving threats based on what they said was the mistaken belief that they were seen celebrating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Tommy Van Nguyen is a U.S. citizen, but his wife has been in the United States on a permanent residency card, according to Thomas McDevitt, an attorney who represented Xuan Van Nguyen in an appeal of an immigration ruling.

Xuan Van Nguyen had sought to gain citizenship, but her application was rejected in 2004 after immigration officials discovered she had failed to report several shoplifting arrests in Canada from 1993, 1995 and 1997, McDevitt said in an interview in July 2005.

A trial on the matter was scheduled for July 31, according to a court docket sheet. The trial apparently was not held, however, as no disposition is indicated on the docket sheet.

Blewitt scheduled a preliminary examination hearing for Nov. 22. The hearing is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the case. Such hearings are often canceled, however, as prosecutors routinely take the matter before a grand jury, which will determine whether an indictment is handed down.

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