A federal judge set bond Thursday at $50,000 for the former Houston police officer accused of taking part in the deadly U.S. Capitol riot.
The judge also ordered Tam Dinh Pham to surrender his U.S. and Vietnam passports and not to have any communication with law enforcement and anyone who is a victim or witness in the case.
Pham turned himself in on Wednesday, according to his attorney.
Pham is charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and unlawfully entering a restricted building. He’s expected to be released after appearing before a federal magistrate.
According to a federal warrant, Pham initially denied he was part of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. But FBI agents say he confessed when they found deleted cell phone photos of him inside the building.
Attorney Nicole DeBorde said Pham is cooperating and “feels a great deal of shame for what happened” and believes President Joe Biden won the election, unlike other rioters.
“He went to see the last speech that President (Donald) Trump was giving and then ultimately ended up getting swept up in the crowd that moved from the speech down the mall to the Capitol,” DeBorde said.
DeBorde said Pham wants to disassociate himself from what took place.
“I want to make it clear that Mr. Pham is a very devout Buddhist and is a very peaceful man,” she said.
In a statement, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Pham’s record while serving on HPD will be scrutinized.
“We are also auditing arrests made by this former officer to ensure there are no irregularities, to include the review of his body worn camera footage related to his arrests,” the statement said. “While our community and members of our department are understandably upset about this breach of trust, all should be heartened by our swift, decisive, and transparent action.”
The investigation into Pham’s actions at the Capitol began after Acevedo received a tip.
During an interview at his Richmond home, Pham told FBI agents he went to Washington D.C. on a “business trip” with his wife and a friend. He said they went to the Trump rally to “see history.”
He admitted he followed the crowd to the Capitol, climbing over downed fences and going around barricades, according to the document.
While inside the building, Pham said he “he looked at historical art” and took photos and videos.
FBI agents say he gave them permission to digitally copy those photos and videos.
One photo shows Pham standing next to a statue and under a Trump flag with an expletive. Others show him with the Capitol Rotunda in the background.
“The metadata associated with each of these photographs indicates that they were created on January 6, 2021 between 2:50 p.m. and 2:55 p.m., the document states.
Five people died during the riot, including a Capitol police officer.
Pham was placed on administrative leave last week and later resigned.
Attorney Nicole DeBorde’s full statement:
“DeBorde says Pham has been fully cooperative, speaking with agents, and is expected to go before a magistrate in federal court IN HOUSTON soon (she didn’t know day or time) but will ultimately face charges in federal court in DC. DeBorde says Pham is a quiet man, has a strong Buddhist faith, and feels a great deal of shame for what happened, as well as sad and ‘wishes he hadn’t been there’. DeBorde also says Pham believes Joe Biden won the election, and wishes him well. DeBorde also notes the charges Pham faces are-despite the extraordinary circumstances-are basically federal misdemeanors.”
After checking Pham’s Facebook page, Acevedo confirmed the officer attended the rally and notified the FBI about the allegations.
“There’s no excuse for criminal activity – especially from a police officer,” Acevedo said. “I can’t tell you the anger I feel at the thought of a police officer or other police officers thinking they get to go storm the Capitol; or any member of the military or members of the Secret Service.”
“As an American, when I saw the confederate flag in the Capitol — in the rotunda — that angered me. And the thought of off-duty police officers participating in that, I can’t tell you what that does to me.”
Pham was a patrol officer and 18-year veteran of HPD.