Fearing for safety, San Jose official gets restraining order

SAN JOSE, CA - January 04: San Jose Councilmember for District 7 Bien Doan, right, holds the hand of Janet Parks Swanson, 63, who is unhoused, as he helps her leave the homeless encampment along Coyote Creek at Tully Road on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023,

San Jose Councilmember Bien Doan has installed metal gates and security cameras at his house, and looks over his shoulder when he leaves city meetings at night -- worried one man may get too close.   

That's according to a March 14 restraining order the District 7 official has filed against prominent Vietnamese leader Hai Quang Huynh, known for his work in the bail bonds and gambling industries. The Santa Clara County Superior Court approved a temporary restraining order based on "a credible threat of violence or stalking" that prohibits Huynh from being within 300 yards of Doan, his parents, car and home, as well as his office at San Jose City Hall. Both men are set to appear in court on April 23.   

Doan alleges in the restraining order request that Huynh has threatened him on three different occasions. The councilmember declined comment and deferred questions to the city attorney's office, which is representing him in court. The city attorney's office said it doesn't comment on pending litigation.  

"I fear that (Huynh) or his associates will try to physically harm me or my parents," Doan wrote in his request. "My concern is increased because people in the community have told me that (Huynh) is not someone you want to have mad at you."   

Huynh, 68, is a well-connected leader in the Vietnamese community who owns Le Bail Bonds, runs Tax 101 Solutions to help individuals and businesses with taxes and is a mortgage broker at H&L Realty Inc., according to his LinkedIn profile. He's former vice president of operations at Bay 101 Casino, but left in 2000, around the time he was indicted for allegedly loansharking, threatening and intimidating witnesses, ordering an assault and having links to organized crime. The charges were later dropped.   

Huynh did not discuss any of the allegations made in the restraining order.   

"I cannot answer right now. This is a legal matter," Huynh told San Jose Spotlight. "You'll hear my side of the story. Everything will be laid out in court."   

Court filings show animus relations between Doan and Huynh started in December 2022, a month after Doan won his election to the San Jose City Council. Huynh called Doan's cell phone to discuss a conflict the council member-elect had with someone who reported to Huynh. The filings don't clarify who or what the conflict was about.   

"During the call, (Huynh) used an expression that translates literally as 'Don't mess with my brother,'" Doan wrote. "In Vietnamese, the expression is understood to be a warning against messing with someone's business or gang and to threaten physical harm in retaliation."   

Months later, on Sept. 13, 2023, a mutual acquaintance set up a meeting at a local coffee shop between Doan and Huynh to de-escalate the apparent conflict between them, Doan wrote.   

"The meeting lasted approximately 10 minutes before (Huynh) told me in Vietnamese, 'You better be afraid of me,'" Doan wrote. "I understood (his) statement to mean that he could or would cause me physical harm. At that point, I left the meeting."   

Court documents describe another incident where an "angry and aggressive" Huynh allegedly yelled and pointed two feet away from Doan at a flag-raising ceremony. That encounter is what compelled Doan to take legal action.   

"I am concerned when I leave the house at night or leave community events," Doan wrote. "I believe that (Huynh) either knows or could easily find out my residence address because my family has lived there for more than 30 years."