Le had started visiting the casino in secret in 2011, but because he couldn’t satisfy his gambling appetite on his modest salary of $1,000 per month, he started withdrawing cash from the temple accounts instead. He established the habit of seeking out the quietest corners of the casino to maintain a low profile and reduce the risk of being recognised.
It is claimed that the Buddhist monk would spend anything from $5,000 to $10,000 every two to three days playing blackjack at the L’Auberge. The fact that he is said to have embezzled around $150,000 over the course of a few years indicates that he lost far more often than he won, but Le has said that when he did win he would return money to the temple accounts.
Le withdrew a total of $374,789 from both his personal and temple bank accounts, often using the ATMs at the casino he frequented. He was able to misuse temple funds simply because the members of the Buddhist community never suspected that their head monk would gamble in the first place, let alone use money from the temple itself to fund a serious addiction.
The Buddhist monk had made no attempt to resist arrest when he was apprehended by law enforcement agents and has admitted to the charges against him. ‘He’s a good man,’ his lawyer told the New York Times from his office in Louisiana. ‘I hope he will be able to come back here.’