Probation for man who smashed SUV into Portland church


Hieu John Phung intentionally crashed his SUV into the Lady of Lavang Church on Dec. 24, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The man who smashed an SUV into a Portland church last year won’t spend time in jail.

Hieu John Phung was sentenced Friday to 36 months of probation for intentionally driving his Acura MDX into the Our Lady of Lavang church on Dec. 24.

Prosecutors said Phung crashed through a closed gate in the 5400 block of Northeast Alameda Street. He then purposely crashed into the exterior of the church and drove inside the building, ruining pews. He drove through another closed gate as he was leaving.

Phung drove off but later made calls to 911 about what had happened. Officers said they found a front SUV grill among the debris at the church and a license plate that was registered to Phung. He was arrested a short while later.

Authorities said Phung caused the damage after a family dispute that had ties to the Vietnamese Catholic church.

The church spent more than $324,000 on repairs.

Phung was convicted of 1st-degree criminal mischief, failure to perform the duties of a driver and 2nd-degree criminal trespass. He’s required to get a mental health evaluation and complete 75 hours of community service. He can’t drive for a year or enter the church during his probation period. A restitution hearing will take place at a later date.

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