California Pastor Arrested for Operating Illegal Gambling Facility

  • Pastor Nguyen claims he thought the gaming machines were part of an arcade
  • Claims he was managing the thrift store in North Eldorado Boulevard for two months
  • Police found a number of weapons and body armor during the raid
  • Three gaming tables and 30 computers were also discovered
Man shuffling a deck of playing cards.
Pastor Thai “John” Nguyen has been arrested for operating an illegal gambling facility from a thrift shop in in North Eldorado Boulevard, California. [Image: Shutterstock]

Pastor in hot water

A pastor in Stockton, California, is facing weapons charges and offenses relating to an alleged illegal gambling operation.

The man in question is 52-year-old pastor Thai “John” Nguyen. According to Fox40, Nguyen claims that he was running a thrift shop that had a video games arcade alongside it.

You put the money there, you’re playing, you’re shooting airplane … and nothing is really, like, violent.”

However, the so-called arcade section actually had a number of gambling-related devices found in it.

Weapons found

The pastor claims that he has been looking after the premises in North Eldorado Boulevard for the past two months. It was on September 24 that the building was raided by police and he was arrested. He is currently awaiting a court hearing.

As per the police report, there was evidence that illegal gambling was taking place on the premises.

Law enforcement also found a loaded AR-15 rifle, two semi-automatic handguns, body armor, a revolver, and $3,600 in cash. One of guns found had been reported as stolen.

Detectives from the Stockton Police Vice Unit had been observing this premises for the past two months. The evidence that points towards an illegal gambling operation are the three gaming tables and 30 computers found on the premises.

After this discovery, the pastor tried to defend himself by claiming he had no idea about the presence of the weapons. He said:

Everything they found is somewhere that I don’t even go.”

Links with former mayor

The pastor also is the operator of an inflatable water park called Indoor Adventures. The co-owner of this facility is the disgraced former mayor of Stockton, Anthony Silva.

In 2016, the former mayor was arrested for giving alcohol to teenage boys at a “Mayor’s Youth Camp” and then filming them as they were playing strip poker.

It was in March 2017 that Silva was arrested on a number of charges. These charges included grand theft, money laundering, misappropriation of public funds, profiteering, and embezzlement.

Authorities believe that some money that he allegedly embezzled through his role was then laundered through his youth camp.

In May 2019, he pled no contest to a conflict of interest charge, resulting in the other charges being dropped. He is now awaiting sentencing and could face up to six months in prison.