By Olivia Anderson | [email protected]
On March 31 Man Nguyen, the bail bondsman involved in the Karla Dominguez murder case, was sentenced to one year in jail for contempt of court, with all but 30 days suspended for good behavior. Judge Charles Sharp said during trial that Nguyen was being tried for “serious malfeasance … almost on a daily basis.”
The sentencing follows a Jan. 26 conviction in Alexandria Circuit Court, for “exhibiting disobedience or resistance of an officer of the court, juror, witness or other person to any lawful process, judgment, decree or order of the court.”
In October 2019, Ibrahim Bouaichi was initially arrested when Dominguez accused him of six felonies: rape, sodomy, strangulation, abduction, burglary and malicious wounding. His trial was set for March 2020, but then the pandemic arrived and Judge Charles Dawkins, who has since retired, released Bouaichi on bond after his attorneys argued there was not enough evidence for him to be held in jail.
Bouaichi’s sister called Nguyen, who then posted $25,000 to release Bouaichi on bond. Bouaichi was ordered to stay at his parents’ home in Greenbelt, Maryland. While awaiting trial, Nguyen hired Bouaichi to work at his kiosk in the Arundel Mills Mall and allowed him to stay at his house while on vacation.
Bouaichi would go on to use Nguyen’s gun and car to drive to Dominguez’ apartment and kill her.
“My only bad judgment was to trust this individual,” Nguyen said in January, defending himself against the charge that he violated the recognizance he signed by helping Bouaichi violate the terms of his bond.
Dave Gamble, Nguyen’s former boss, testified that bondsmen are “not responsible for the behavior” of those they bail out of jail but conceded that the bondsmen he works with are required to “know the conditions of the bond.”
Nguyen said during trial that he wasn’t aware of violating conditions, a sentiment he expressed to the Times back in October during an interview. Nguyen said that even though he signed the recognizance, he did not remember the terms of Bouaichi’s bond and that Bouaichi did not remind him.
“ … I wish he did tell me that because if I did continue to hang out with him and take him out of the house, then of course I would [be violating] the judge’s order. But he never told me that, so I’m thinking that he’s out as a free man on bond, that he can do what he wants as long as he doesn’t get in trouble,” Nguyen told the Times in October 2021.
Magistrate Elizabeth Fuller reported Nguyen to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice services for violating his oath. DCJS opened an investigation and ultimately revoked Nguyen’s license in September 2020. Fuller was later fired for speaking with the Times about her decision to file the complaint.
Commonwealth’s attorney Bryan Porter said that Nguyen’s conviction and subsequent sentencing was a step in the right direction.
“While this conviction in no way atones for the absolute tragedy which occurred in this case, the defendant made a serious error for which he has rightly been held accountable. All officers of the court must understand that compliance with a court’s bond order is not optional, that signing court documents under oath means something, and that repeatedly allowing the egregious violation of an order of the court carries consequences. ”