This story was originally published Feb. 9, 2005.
St. Paul police officer Tou Mo Cha resigned from the department Tuesday after pleading guilty to lending out his service pistol, which was then used in April to shoot up the Maplewood home of a Hmong leader.
Tou Cha's resignation was part of a felony plea agreement in which the county dropped two other weapons and assault charges. Under the agreement, Tou Cha will be sentenced April 27 to 30 days in the county workhouse and five years' probation. He also will be ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution for the damage caused by his gun.
Standing before Ramsey County District Judge Ed Cleary, Tou Cha, 36, said he lent his .40-caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol to Hmong businessman Chue Chou Tchang after Tchang threatened him and his family.
Tou Cha told St. Paul police that Tchang wanted to scare the Hmong leader, Xang Vang, according to a press release issued by the Ramsey County attorney's office.
Tchang has denied the allegations.
Both Tchang and Xang Vang are allies of Gen. Vang Pao, the Hmong leader who led the CIA's secret war in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s. Xang Vang, who has served as the general's interpreter and is a Laotian war veteran, is active in Republican politics. He helped organize the Hmong on behalf of President George W. Bush's campaign last fall.
Ballistics tests confirmed that a bullet casing recovered from Xang Vang's house had been fired from Tou Cha's weapon. The house was fired upon at least five times, but no one was injured.
After his arrest in May, Tou Cha gave a statement to police that included detailed allegations of corruption at St. Paul City Hall. On Friday, Police Chief John Harrington decided to turn that part of Tou Cha's case over to the FBI.
Harrington's decision came a day after the Star Tribune published Tou Cha's confidential statement, which alleged that a prominent Hmong businessman told him that for $10,000 to $20,000 he could influence city officials regarding a liquor license for a Frogtown nightclub that Tou Cha co-owned.
The businessman, St. Paul real estate developer Cha Vang, a son of Gen. Vang Pao, has denied the officer's allegations.
Tou Cha had spent Monday giving a detailed statement to investigators of his actions - providing much of the same information that is in his original statement, which had been ruled inadmissible by Cleary because police failed to provide a lawyer requested by Tou Cha.
On Tuesday, Tou Cha, an 11-year veteran of the force, appeared in court with his wife, Mai Her. Both appeared calm as the plea bargain was discussed.
Under the agreement, Tou Cha will receive immunity from further local and state prosecution related to the gun charges that were dropped. The charges included a shooting at the Dara Thai Restaurant involving Tou Cha's gun.
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Clayton Robinson and Tou Cha's attorney, Earl Gray, each asked questions that indicated authorities might be turning their attention to the alleged activities of Chue Chou Tchang and others.
Robinson asked Tou Cha if he knew that his gun was going to be used in an act of violence to cause fear in others. Tou Cha replied, "Yes."
Gray explained to Tou Cha that the officer was giving up his defense of committing a crime while under duress. Gray asked Tou Cha if Chue Chou Tchang had threatened his family - including his wife and three children. "Yes," Tou Cha said.
Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said her office has not received any case against Chue Chou Tchang from the police. She said the investigation behind the shootings is continuing.