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Nguyen now faces federal charges

Rochester, N.Y. -- Dawn Nguyen was found guilty of falsifying business records in Monroe County Court Tuesday.

The state's guilty verdict carries a maximum of four years behind bars, with the possibility of parole after one, but more time could be added to her sentence. Nguyen also faces federal charges falsifying business records.

If convicted in federal court, Nguyen faces up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine for the same charge.

"That is an interesting topic because we have a constitution that says you can't be put into double jeopardy," said attorney Robert Brenna Jr.

A lawyer with Brenna, Brenna and Boyce in Rochester, Brenna is not involved with the Nguyen case but said double jeopardy is a topic that will likely be heavily debated.

The most recent ruling by the Supreme Court determined that trying the same crime in the state jurisdiction and the federal jurisdiction is not considered double jeopardy.

"If the same offense can be charged in federal and state court as the law currently allows, I believe there is a question of it being a violation on the constitutional amendment against double jeopardy," Brenna said.

As a lawyer, Brenna added it's an argument he would take to the Supreme Court, but he said he'd never represent Nguyen for ethical reasons.

"I've been trying to answer in an as objective way as I possibly could and with as professional demeanor as I could," Brenna said while suddenly becoming emotional during the interview. "I'm having a great deal of difficulty keeping it out of my mind now that you've brought up the words that you did."

It's something 13WHAM didn't know until Brenna heard the word "ambush" and broke down mid-interview.

"I have ties to the victims of this shooting personally," Brenna said.

A Webster native, Brenna knew the two firefighters killed the morning of Dec. 24, 2012.

Brenna's wife, a teacher at Webster Thomas High School, had Tomasz Kaczowka in class, and Brenna said Michael Chiapperini was a friend.

"Just a horrible tragedy," Brenna said. "Something my community in Webster will have a great deal of difficulty ever getting over."

Brenna sais he has a connection to both the fallen heroes and the killer, as he went to Thomas with William Spengler Jr., the gunman who orchestrated the Christmas Eve ambush.

Brenna said Spengler was a year older than him but he remembers seeing him around school.

"I did not socialize with him," Brenna said. "I don't know if I ever spoke to him. I just know I wanted to avoid him because he was full of so much hatred."

No matter his connection to the case or the legal technicalities involved, Brenna said no one should have given Spengler any kind of weapon or helped him pull off such a horrific act.

Nguyen's case is expected to go trial in federal court, but, after Tuesday's guilty verdict, federal prosecutors could decide to drop the charges or work out plea deal to avoid appeals at the state level.

Nguyen will be sentenced for that conviction in May.

She was arraigned in federal court on a three-count indictment last March.

Charges include lying on a federal form, possessing firearms while using marijuana, and providing a rifle and shotgun to Spengler, a convicted felon.

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Washington Times