Man accused of laundering $1 million in Placentia embezzlement by ex-finance manager

A Los Angeles finance executive has been accused of helping the city of Placentia’s former financial-services manager launder more than $1 million in embezzled funds from the cash-strapped municipality.

Herbert Norris Trotter Jr., 45, of Santa Monica pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday, March 28 to 28 felony counts including money laundering and misappropriation of public funds.

Prosecutors said Trotter, a managing partner for the Talaton Group, a Beverly Hills financial company, helped Michael Minh Nguyen launder some of the $5 million-plus he embezzled from Placentia while working in the city’s financial-services department.

Nguyen, 34, was sentenced to 25 years in prison this month after pleading guilty to dozens of felonies, including embezzlement and money laundering. He has agreed to pay about $10 million in fines and $2.6 million in restitution.

A third man, Michael McDonald, a Las Vegas high roller, has been accused of laundering nearly $750,000. He remains a fugitive, authorities said Tuesday.

Prosecutors accuse Trotter and McDonald of knowing that Nguyen had embezzled the money.

According to court records, employees at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino were suspicious when McDonald tried to persuade them to accept a wire transfer from the city of Placentia. City officials then discovered wire transfers to a handful of other businesses, including to Trotter and the Talaton Group.

Trotter last year told the Register that Nguyen came to the company for help raising money for a real estate deal in Las Vegas and for an aunt to open nail salons. During the interview, Trotter denied knowing of any wrongdoing by Nguyen.

Prosecutors said Nguyen squandered most of the stolen millions on gambling and poor investments.

Authorities helped the city to recover about $3 million of the embezzled money and insurance was expected to bring in $1 million more.

The city has since taken steps to strengthen its accounting systems and established a…

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