A 48-year-old woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing three statutes from a Buddhist temple in Santa Ana and was immediately sentenced to two years in jail, or the equivalent of time served in custody.
Trang Thu Pham of Santa Ana pleaded guilty to grand theft and vandalism of religious property. She also admitted a sentencing enhancement allegation for a hate crime, according to Deputy District Attorney Jess Rodriguez.
Pham was ruled too mentally unwell to assist in her defense in November, but then last month was declared to healthy enough for her case to go forward, according to court records.
The statues, valued at about $1,000 apiece, were stolen on Feb. 26, 2016, from the Chua Truc Lam Yen Tu Buddhist Temple at 1924 W. Second St.
Two of the 2-foot-tall statues were stolen from a shrine next to the sidewalk in front of the temple, according to police, who said the theft was captured by a surveillance camera. Pham returned to the temple on March 6 of last year and took a third statue.
Representatives of the temple viewed the surveillance video and contacted law enforcement, according to Santa Ana police.
Pham was previously convicted of vandalizing another temple in town and sentenced to 268 days in jail and placed on five years formal probation, according to police.
— City News Service
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