Chinese woman found guilty of trespassing at Mar-a-Lago

Remigio Civitarese
Сентября 12, 2019

Yujing Zhang, the Chinese woman who allegedly breached security at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump's private Florida club, earlier this year, has been found guilty on counts of unlawfully entering a restricted building and making false statements to a federal officer.

Zhang, a Shanghai businesswoman, was arrested in March after telling Secret Service agents that she was a member of Mar-a-Lago.

Prosecutors presented evidence that they believed would prove beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury that "anyone with common sense" would have known they were going to enter restricted property: photographs of signage that outline security details and checkpoints, witnesses - including Mar-a-Lago staff and US Secret Service agents - who testified Zhang lied to them when asked why she was there, and Federal Bureau of Investigation experts who extracted data from her phone to discover messages from an individual from Zhang's native China warning her not to go to Trump's club, as the event she was hoping to attend - as part of a $20,000 vacation package - was canceled.

The Associated Press reported that even leading up to the trial, Altman would become frustrated with Zhang when she ignored his questions or answered with non sequiturs. She faced no espionage charges.

Zhang faces up to six years in federal prison when she is sentenced on November 22.

Zhang's public defenders said before their firing that she came to Mar-a-Lago believing there would be a dinner that evening for the United Nations group, as part of a $20,000 travel package she had purchased from a man named "Charles" she only knew through social media. "I thought my case was canceled..." were among the first remarks Zhang told the court prior to jury selection Monday.

They pointed to a receipt Zhang received from Charles Lee, a Chinese national who promotes such events at Mar-a-Lago, and a flyer she had promoting it.

"As you've seen from the very beginning, I made [a] contract to go to Mar-a-Lago to see [the] President", Zhang told jurors. That led to confusion over whether she was the daughter of a member.

On March 30, she was mistakenly allowed in by Mar-a-Lago staff.

Baffling behaviour marked Zhang's trial in the US District Court in Fort Lauderdale from the start.

Zhang made worldwide headlines in March when she was arrested carrying multiple electronic devices at Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, including a thumb drive that was later found to contain "malicious malware", according to the Secret Service.

Prosecutors used text messages between Zhang and the event organiser to prove she knew the charity gala had been cancelled before she left China. She said Zhang went into a restroom when confronted by agents. Altman repeated questions to her when she appeared to not understand court proceedings, her answers were provided at times in broken English and at times through court-appointed Mandarin translators.

When Zhang was detained, investigators said they found several electronic devices on her and in her room at a local hotel, purportedly including a device to detect hidden cameras.

Lee ran the United Nations Chinese Friendship Association, which is not affiliated with the U.N., and was photographed at least twice with Cindy Yang, a Republican donor and former Florida massage parlor owner who organized events at Mar-a-Lago.

A search of Zhang's Palm Beach hotel room reportedly uncovered a device meant to detect hidden cameras and almost $8,000 in cash.

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