A woman has been given a 5 12-year prison term for feeding a gambling addiction with more than $1 million she stole while working at a Minneapolis property management company.

Mai Houa Xiong, 47, was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis after pleading guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and making and subscribing a false tax return in connection with her stealing from the clients of Minneapolis-based Common Properties Management Cooperative.

Xiong, who was most recently living in Fresno, Calif., also was ordered as part of her sentence to pay nearly $1.8 million in restitution to cover what she stole and the transfers of hundreds of thousands more between accounts in an effort to cover up her embezzlement plot.

Prosecutors pushed for Xiong to be imprisoned for 7 14 years, citing in their presentence filing "her prior history of criminal fraud convictions, the repeated and calculated nature of the offenses and the severe impact of her crime on a large number of people."

The defense countered in writing that a four-year sentence would be fitting, given Xiong's difficult marital relationships, financial hardship while becoming a mother of nine children, and her struggles with illicit drug abuse.

Xiong moved to the Twin Cities from California but was "despondent and overwhelmed [while] trapped in an abusive marriage," the defense filing continued.

This led Xiong to seek respite through casino gambling, but "she quickly lost control … and began betting increasingly larger amounts on a daily basis," the filing read. Once her stealing was revealed during an audit, she was fired in July 2021.

According to court documents:

Xiong was hired as a financial manager for Common Properties Management Cooperative in May 2013 and "had little oversight and nearly unfettered access" to the bank accounts and other financial systems of numerous Twin Cities homeowner associations (HOAs) that were the company's clients.

The money she stole over a six-year period came from fees the HOAs collected from residents to cover maintenance, construction and other costs.

Xiong repeatedly accessed the HOAs' bank accounts and transferred money into her personal bank accounts. She disguised these transfers by mislabeling them as legitimate HOA expenses. She also made cash withdrawals directly from the HOAs' accounts, even for a month after she was fired.

One consequence of her embezzlement: An HOA that Xiong stole from had to scrap a $1.3 million roof replacement because the money it believed it had was not there.

Despite finding a new job after being fired, Xiong illegally collected unemployment insurance from the state from October 2021 until January 2022.