Yujing Zhang, 35, arrived in China on Sunday — more than two years after serving an eight-month prison sentence for trespassing in March 2019 at Trump’s Palm Beach club, where she was stopped by a receptionist while trying to meet the then-president, the Miami Herald reported.
Federal prosecutors accused Zhang at trial of bluffing her way onto the private club by claiming she was going to the pool and insisted she was attending an event there, but a review of her text messages revealed she knew the benefit had already been canceled, the newspaper reported.
Zhang, who grew up in Shanghai and spent tens of thousands of dollars on travel packages to Trump-branded businesses, accused prosecutors of misrepresenting her visit, claiming she was only at Mar-a-Lago to meet Trump and his family.
Zhang was arrested on a trespassing charge at Mar-a-Lago in a gray evening dress and had about $8,000 in US and Chinese currency in her room at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, where she staying at the time, the Herald reported.
She was held in custody without bond and was later found guilty of trespassing and lying to Secret Service agents about why she was at Mar-a-Lago.
“I already said I come to meet the president and his family and make friends,” Zhang told a judge at her sentencing.
“You wanted to come to make friends with the president and his family?” US District Judge Roy Altman asked, prompting Zhang to chuckle and say yes.
It’s unclear what Zhang’s motive was, but Altman sentenced her to eight months in prison before she was transferred in December 2019 into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a convicted foreign national awaiting deportation.
Zhang was then held at the Glades County Detention Center for three times longer than her prison sentence primarily due to deportation delays during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Herald reported.
Zhang had tried to speed up the process by expediting her removal, but was unsuccessful. She wrote in court documents that she had no money to call relatives in China and needed an attorney to be freed and return to her homeland.
Zhang, who has limited English skills, represented herself at trial after firing a public defender who previously said she had a “fantastical idea” about proposing a business deal to Trump and his family and that there was “nothing nefarious” about her visit, the newspaper reported.
With Post wires