Monk hooked on cards blew temple funds

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A Buddhist monk with a secret addiction to blackjack stole $150,000 from the coffers of his temple in Louisiana to spend on the card tables of a lakeside casino, according to court papers.

Khang Le, 35, the resident monk of the Tinh Do temple in Lafayette, was arrested by an agent from the Department of Homeland Security as he stepped off a plane in New York.

The arresting officer said in an affidavit that after a Vietnamese translator had read Mr Le his rights he admitted spending between $5,000 and $10,000 from temple funds “every two or three days at the casino playing blackjack”.

Investigators said that since 2011 he had been travelling at least once a week to L’Auberge casino in Lake Charles, eighty miles to the west, seeking out “deserted spots” in the casino to avoid running into members of his congregation. When he won money, he is said to have returned it to the temple, which is the spiritual headquarters of the Vietnamese Buddhist Association of Southwest Louisiana.

Mr Le pleaded not guilty to wire fraud. A judge in New York denied him bail and he is expected to be transferred back to Louisiana to face trial.

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