Chinese Woman Arrested At Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Had A Hidden Camera Finder, Prosecutor Says (#GotBitcoin?)
Yujing Zhang 32 years old, had a device that can detect hidden cameras, nine USB drives and five SIM cards in her room, among other piece of equipment, the prosecutor said Monday. Chinese Woman Arrested At Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Had A Hidden Camera Finder, Prosecutor Says (#GotBitcoin?)
Authorities say she had device to detect hidden cameras, $8,000 in U.S. and Chinese currency.
A Chinese woman arrested for entering President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort without authorization had $8,000 in U.S. and Chinese currency and a cache of electronic devices in her hotel room, according to a prosecutor who spoke at the woman’s detention hearing.
Ms. Zhang’s attorney portrayed her actions as innocent and said she planned to attend an event publicized by Charles Lee, a Chinese national who is an event promoter. Mr. Lee also has connections to Cindy Yang, the former owner of a massage parlor in West Palm Beach where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was recently arrested for soliciting prostitution.
Prosecutors said they expected to indict Ms. Zhang before the week is out.
When Ms. Zhang entered the Mar-a-Lago grounds March 30, she had with her four cellphones, a computer, a hard drive and a thumb drive loaded with malware, according to a federal complaint last week
Her detention hearing, which lasted more than two hours, was scheduled to resume next Monday. U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman agreed to the defense attorney’s request to postpone the conclusion of the hearing to allow Ms. Zhang’s legal team to amass more evidence.
The case has raised concerns about security at Mar-a-Lago and efforts by foreign and domestic parties to gain access to the president and his inner circle outside standard protocols.
Ms. Zhang’s hearing came just hours after the White House announced that the head of the Secret Service was leaving. No connection to the Mar-a-Lago incident was mentioned, and Mr. Trump had praised the service after the incident occurred.
Ms. Zhang has been charged with making false statements to a federal officer, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and entering a restricted building or grounds, which is punishable by up to one year in prison.
She hasn’t yet entered a plea. On Monday, she barely spoke during the proceedings, providing brief answers to the judge through a Mandarin interpreter. Handcuffed, she followed the proceedings intently, periodically jotting notes on a memo pad.
On March 30, Ms. Zhang sought to enter Mar-a-Lago, telling a U.S. Secret Service agent she was there to go to the pool and presenting two Chinese passports, according to a criminal complaint.
She was allowed to enter, likely as a result of a language barrier and confusion over whether she was a relative of a club member, the complaint said.
At a subsequent checkpoint, authorities said, Ms. Zhang told a receptionist she was there to attend a “United Nations Chinese American Association” event, which didn’t exist. The receptionist alerted the Secret Service, which questioned her at length.
In the interview, she said she had been told by a friend named “Charles” to attend the supposed event and seek to speak with a member of Mr. Trump’s family about Chinese-American relations, according to the complaint. Her attorney said “Charles” was a reference to Mr. Lee.
At Monday’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rolando Garcia argued that Ms. Zhang should be held without bond because she presented a flight risk. He said she had no family, residential or financial ties to South Florida and no legal status in the U.S. after the State Department last week revoked her tourist visa. Her most recent arrival in the U.S. was on March 28, traveling to Newark from Shanghai, he said.
Mr. Garcia said Ms. Zhang was untrustworthy, citing numerous inconsistencies in her statements to the Secret Service. “She lies to everyone that she encounters,” Mr. Garcia said. He added that the government wasn’t now accusing her of espionage but continuing to investigate.
Robert Adler, an assistant federal public defender representing Ms. Zhang, presented evidence that he said explained her actions. A Chinese promotional flier he submitted appeared to advertise an event scheduled for Mar. 30 at Mar-a-Lago featuring Mr. Trump’s sister. He said the event, which was marketed by Mr. Lee, was canceled.
Mr. Adler also presented what he said was a receipt, in Chinese, for a wire transfer from Ms. Zhang to an entity called “Peace Friendship Enterprise Management LLC” for the Mar. 30 event. The amount was roughly $20,000.
Mr. Adler also questioned Samuel Ivanovich, the Secret Service agent who led the questioning of Ms. Zhang on Mar. 30, highlighting what he suggested were weaknesses in the government’s depiction of events. Mr. Ivanovich conceded under questioning that there was no audio recording of his interview of Ms. Zhang, though he had assumed the Secret Service interrogation room in West Palm Beach was equipped with recording equipment.Go back