FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Information) – A Chinese language girl was sentenced to eight months in jail in a federal courtroom on Monday after she was convicted of bluffing her means into U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, sparking fears she might pose an intelligence risk.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Membership is proven forward of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Palm Seashore, Florida, U.S., August 31, 2019. Information/Joe Skipper
Yujing Zhang, 33, was discovered responsible in September of mendacity to a federal officer and trespassing on the Palm Seashore resort by a U.S. District Court docket 12-member jury in Fort Lauderdale after a two-day trial.
Zhang has already served greater than seven-and-a-half months of the eight-month sentence, ranging from the time of her arrest. She was additionally sentenced to 2 years of supervised launch by District Court docket Decide Roy Altman.
“The proof was overwhelming that Zhang lied time and time once more to the Secret Service brokers when she got here to Mar-a-Lago,” Altman mentioned throughout the sentencing listening to.
Zhang, who has maintained her innocence, made worldwide headlines in March when she was arrested carrying a number of digital units on the resort.
“I got here to the property and simply adopted the directions and requested the place to go. I don’t suppose I’m mendacity,” she mentioned in courtroom. “I got here to fulfill the President and household to simply make mates.”
On March 30, Zhang handed an preliminary Secret Service checkpoint by passing herself off as a relative of a resort member of the identical identify and telling membership safety personnel she was going to the pool.
However as soon as she gained entry to the grounds her habits, together with capturing many pictures, aroused suspicion.
At one level earlier than she was arrested, Zhang instructed membership personnel she was there for a United Nations Chinese language American Affiliation occasion, which turned out to be nonexistent, federal prosecutors mentioned.
The query of what she was doing on the membership remained unanswered as prosecutors provided no rationalization in courtroom for her motives.
Zhang’s actions sparked considerations she may need been a spy. However U.S. specialists instructed Information her try to enter the membership was so clumsy that whereas she has been linked to the Chinese language Communist Social gathering in Beijing, it was laborious to imagine she was an expert spy.
In a courtroom submitting this month, Assistant U.S. Legal professional Rolando Garcia requested Altman to contemplate an 18-month jail sentence for Zhang slightly than the recommended six months within the sentencing pointers.
Garcia wrote a stiffer penalty was warranted due to the seriousness of the crimes, the necessity to deter comparable conduct, and since Zhang lied to a different federal decide about her funds.
Reporting by Zachary Fagenson in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Modifying by Sandra Maler and Matthew Lewis