96°F
weather icon Clear

Chinese businesswoman convicted in Mar-a-Lago trespass, lying case

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Chinese businesswoman was convicted Wednesday of trespassing at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in March and lying to Secret Service agents.

The 10-woman, two-man federal jury reached the verdict after four hours of deliberation Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the case of Yujing Zhang. The 33-year-old Shanghai business consultant faces up to six years in prison when she is sentenced Nov. 22.

The defendant showed no reaction when the verdict was read.

Zhang acted as her own attorney after firing her public defenders in June.

She was arrested March 30 after authorities say she lied when she told a Secret Service agent she was there to visit the pool. That led to confusion over whether she was the daughter of a member. She he was taken to the lobby where she then told a receptionist she was there for a United Nations friendship event that night and had come early to take pictures. That event had been canceled and prosecutors say Zhang had been informed.

Agents took Zhang to a nearby Secret Service area outside Mar-a-Lago where agents say she became argumentative. She was taken to the Secret Service’s field office in West Palm Beach.

Prosecutors say Zhang was carrying four cellphones, a laptop and an external hard drive, telling agents she feared they would be stolen if she left them in her hotel room. However, when agents searched her room at a nearby hotel, they say they discovered more electronics gear — including a device to detect hidden cameras — $8,000 in cash and numerous credit and debit cards. She faced no espionage charges.

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, part of a $20,000 travel package she had purchased from a man named “Charles” she only knew through social media. 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.

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.

The president and his family were visiting Mar-a-Lago the weekend of Zhang’s arrest, but he was at his nearby golf club when she arrived and she was never near him.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Propane explosion kills firefighter, injures 6 others

A powerful propane explosion leveled new construction that houses a nonprofit, killing one firefighter and injuring at least six others, officials said.

Johnson, Juncker hold Brexit talks; no visible breakthrough

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to ramp up talks on securing an elusive Brexit deal.

Dem presidential candidates call for Kavanaugh’s impeachment

Several Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday lined up to call for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the face of a new, uninvestigated, allegation of sexual impropriety when he was in college.

UAW says its 49K members at GM plants will go on strike

The United Auto Workers union announced that its roughly 49,000 members at General Motors plants in the U.S. will go on strike Sunday night because contract negotiations with the automaker had broken down.

Man organizes hunting event for wheelchair users

A Utah man who has been in a wheelchair for more than three decades has created a pheasant hunt for people like him who need help getting into the outdoors.

Solid gold toilet stolen from Winston Churchill’s birthplace

A unique solid gold toilet that was part of an art exhibit was stolen early Saturday from the magnificent home in England where British wartime leader Winston Churchill was born.