18-year sentence for kidnapping that led to execution

June 10, 2011 1:23:20 PM PDT
A Suisun City man was sentenced to 18 years in state prison Friday morning for his role in an alleged gang execution on the Sonoma Coast in 2008.

Tyrone Tay, 29, was sentenced in Sonoma County Superior Court for kidnapping 24-year old Vutha Au of Santa Rosa on March 2, 2008, and being a member of a criminal street gang. He pleaded guilty to both charges.

Tay drove Au to a vehicle where four other alleged Asian Boyz gang members were waiting. Those Santa Rosa defendants, Sarith Prak, 24, his brother David Prak, 22, Preston Khaoone, 25, and Quentin Russell, 23, will be tried in October for Au's murder.

Au was shot nine times in a parking lot at Blind Beach near Jenner on the Sonoma Coast on March 2, 2008.

He was the brother of Terry Au, who was kidnapped in 2007 by Perry Khaoone and Pongsony Patrick Khaoone, the brothers of Preston Khaoone. Vutha Au was believed to be a prospective witness at Perry's and Pongsony Khaoone's kidnapping trial.

Vutha and Terry Au were relocated under the witness protection program after Terry Au was kidnapped, and Terry Au testified against his abductors at their preliminary hearing in November 2007.

Vutha Au, however, returned to Santa Rosa on March 2, 2008, the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office said.

Perry and Pongsony Khaoone pleaded guilty in 2010 to gang kidnapping charges. Perry Khaoone was sentenced to 18 years in prison and Pongsony Patrick Khaoone was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Deputy District Attorney Traci Carrillo told Judge Arthur Wick that Tay was an active participant in what became Vutha Au's execution. She said Vutha Au thought he was going to clubs with friends, and instead of warning Au, Tay delivered him to his death.

Tay then went to clubs with his co-defendant Boonlak Chanpheng after dropping off Au, Carrillo said.

Chanpheng, 29, was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison for kidnapping Au and being a gang member. He arranged through text messages and phone calls for Tay to take Au to where the other four defendants were waiting.

Tay's attorney Joe Stogner told Wick his client had no idea what was going to happen to Au. He said Tay was "criminally passive."

"His choice was not to intercede. He felt he could passively withdraw. He wanted to wash his hands of something," Stogner said.

Ultimately, Tay made a terrible decision and did not do the right thing, Stogner acknowledged.

"He went along with what he was told to do," Stogner said.

However, in imposing the maximum sentence, Wick said Tay's involvement was significant because he coordinated the contact with the other defendants and facilitated the abduction that led to Au's death.

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