Trial of Mar-a-Lago Crasher Is Over

Yujing Zhang convicted of trespassing, lying to Secret Service
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 11, 2019 4:31 PM CDT
Trial of Mar-a-Lago Trespasser Is Over
In this April 15, 2019, file court sketch, Yujing Zhang, left, a Chinese woman charged with lying to illegally enter President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, listens to a hearing before Magistrate Judge William Matthewman in West Palm Beach, Fla.   (Daniel Pontet via AP, File)

Yujing Zhang's desire to meet President Trump and his family turned the Chinese businesswoman into an American felon. A 10-woman, two-man federal jury convicted Zhang on Wednesday of trespassing at the president's Mar-a-Lago club in March and lying to Secret Service agents. The 33-year-old Shanghai consultant faces up to six years in prison when District Judge Roy Altman sentences her Nov. 22, the AP reports. Zhang, who acted as her own attorney after firing her public defenders in June, showed no reaction when the verdict was read. She then spoke calmly with federal marshals, discussing what would happen with her legal papers. She smiled at her standby public defenders and was led back to jail. Prosecutors and Zhang's standby attorneys declined to comment. Jury forewoman Shelly Hoffman said only, "You heard our verdict."

Zhang's troubles began in February when she paid $20,000 to "Charles," a man she knew only online, to attend a Chinese-American friendship event at Mar-a-Lago on March 30. It included a promised photo with the president or a member of his family, evidence showed. Such meet-and-greets are common during events at the exclusive club. By mid-March, texts the Secret Service found on Zhang's cellphone showed Charles told Zhang the event had been canceled. For the same price she could attend an event with Bill and Hillary Clinton or one with investor Warren Buffett, although a photo with Buffett would cost $40,000 more, testimony showed. Zhang demanded a refund, but still flew to the United States and was admitted to the club by managers who thought she might be a member's daughter. Prosecutors said she then lied to Secret Service agents who detained her.

(More Mar-a-Lago stories.)

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