Pretrial of suspect in CSUF stabbing delayed for third time

(Jonathan Phan / Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton is withholding all financial records of the past five years from the Department of Extended Education following the Orange County District Attorney filing charges of embezzlement against a CSUF former employee.

Chris Chuyen Vo, a former employee in the University Extended Education finance department, was arrested last year for the stabbing death of Steven Chan, another former CSUF employee who had returned to the university as a consultant conducting a financial audit on Vo’s department.

Vo is charged with grand theft and murder, with several extra charges that his actions were allegedly for financial benefit and that he laid in wait. The theft charges were added last month, at a hearing where the court agreed to take the death penalty off the table.

If convicted on all counts, he could face life in prison. Vo has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

CSUF has never accused Vo of embezzling from the university, although his department was under a financial audit led by Chan at the time of Chan’s death.

The Orange County DA’s office confirmed the embezzlement charge was linked to Vo’s work at CSUF, but declined to comment further.

On Sept. 30, Daily Titan reporters filed a public records request with the university, seeking copies of the department’s past financial records, results from the audit Chan was working on and any discussion of financial indiscrepancies within the department.

Exactly two weeks later, the university agreed to release the financial records and denied all other requests citing privacy rights, the ongoing investigation by law enforcement and attorney-client privilege as several reasons to not release the records.

But the next day, the university reversed its decision and announced that they would not release any records.

“After further review, we determined that at this time, the itemized budget documents are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act as they are part of a law enforcement investigation,” said Anne Grogan, CSUF’s Public Records Request Coordinator in an email to the Daily Titan.

The university has not commented on the embezzlement charges, again citing the ongoing investigation.

Over a year later, Vo’s trial has not moved beyond a pre-trial, but his preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for January 2021.

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