Man sentenced to 45 years in socialite murder-for-hire case

Nhut Nguyen was found guilty of aggravated assault
August 16, 2011 10:00:00 PM PDT
The first of three people accused in a murder-for-hire plot is on his way to prison. Two more will go on trial soon and one attorney is worries a love triangle may be complicating the case.

"We believe that justice was done," prosecutor Kari Allen said.

That's the reaction from prosecutors after a jury decided Nhut Nguyen will spend the next 45 years in prison for his role in an unsuccessful murder-for-hire plot against Bellaire socialite Yvonne Stern.

"My belief is if the gun had not malfunctioned, he would have continued to fire at Mrs. Stern. So we are very, very thankful that she is still alive," Allen said.

Investigators say Nguyen is the hitman who fired a bullet into Stern's house in April last year. They believe the incident was part of a bigger scheme allegedly planned by Stern's husband Jeffrey and his former mistress Michelle Gaiser.

"Oh, I believe she was very fortunate," Allen said.

This week, Yvonne Stern was emotional as she told the jury how she and her children moved to an apartment after the shooting. She told them she had bullet-proof glass and a surveillance system put in but was shot by a gunman 20 days later.

Nguyen's defense lawyer told Eyewitness News he believes what doomed his client was testimony from about his prior murder-for-hire and racketeering conviction in Boston.

"I knew when the jury heard that, they weren't going to take it too lightly," said Sam Maida, Nguyen's lawyer said.

In addition to the new aggravated assault conviction, Nguyen must pay a $5,000 fine.

Stern's husband and his former mistress are still awaiting trial. She filed for divorce from him last year but has since reconciled that relationship.

"I used the word awkward, because she's trying to help the prosecutor in this case, but I don't think she's going to be trying to help him in the case against her husband. That's why I can use the word awkward," Maida said.

Nguyen was the first suspect to go to trial in this murder-for-hire case. The other defendants are due in court in several months.


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