Former Waco nail salon owner accused of sex assault, human trafficking given plea deal
Teddy Hoang’s plea agreement results in felony deferred probation for three years
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A deadlocked jury in favor of the defendant in a labor trafficking and sexual assault case Friday morning led to a plea agreement that averted a mistrial in the case.
Teddy Hoang, 52, the former owner of a nail salon on Lake Shore Drive, was on trial in Waco’s 19th State District Court on continuous trafficking of persons, sexual assault, continuous violence against the family and repeated violations of court order charges dating back to 2017.
Jurors in the four-day trial deliberated about seven hours before deadlocking on the sexual assault charge 10-2 in favor of not guilty.
A jury’s verdict in criminal cases must be unanimous and the logjam would have forced Judge Thomas West to declare a mistrial if the parties had not worked a plea agreement.
Jurors also reported that they voted 12-0 in favor of not guilty on the trafficking allegations, 12-0 in favor of not guilty on the family violence charge and 12-0 for guilty on the violation of the court order charge, but only one count, which would have reduced the charge to a misdemeanor.
To avoid a retrial, prosecutors Will Hix and Tara Avants, and defense attorneys Jason Milam and Alan Streetman, worked out a plea agreement Friday morning that called for West to sentence Hoang to felony deferred probation for three years on the repeated violation of a court order count and misdemeanor deferred probation for two years on the family violence count.
In deferred probation cases, there is no final judgment of guilt if the defendant completes the terms and conditions of probation.
A 43-year-old South Vietnamese woman claimed that Hoang beat her and sexually assaulted her multiple times during their nine-month marriage, tricked her to coming to America and then forced her to work at his Skyline Nails Salon.
Hoang, a naturalized citizen from South Vietnam, denied the allegations, while his lawyers attacked the thoroughness of the Waco Police Department’s investigation.
Milam and Streetman argued that there was no evidence to support the labor trafficking or sexual assault claims and charged the woman fabricated the allegations to try to find a legal way to stay in this country.
Milam and Streetman said they were pleased with the jury’s efforts.
“The outcome sends a message to police and prosecutors that McLennan County juries will not rubber stamp unconfirmed allegations,” Milam said. “The complete failure of the Waco Police Department to investigate this case has not only harmed Teddy Hoang, it harms our community and our faith in our criminal justice system. After six long years under these allegations, Mr. Hoang was relieved to bring this harrowing chapter of his life to a conclusion.”
During his closing arguments to the jury, Hix admitted that the police department’s investigation into the labor trafficking count was “wholly incompetent.”
“The jurors this week went above and beyond in their service,” Hix said after the trial. “We appreciate their long hours and careful deliberations. It is clear that in any future labor trafficking case, all of law enforcement, from investigating officers through prosecuting attorneys, need to collaborate better in order to achieve justice for the victims who deserve it.”
If Hoang had been convicted of continuous trafficking of persons, he faced a minimum of 25 years and up to life in prison.
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