On a spring afternoon, a Chinese businesswoman wearing a gray evening gown was so determined to meet President Donald Trump that she bluffed her way into his private Palm Beach club, saying at first she wanted to go to the pool, but later insisted she was on a mission to attend a gala event at Mar-a-Lago.
Yujing Zhang was let in by the Secret Service and club security staff after they confused her last name with that of a member, but was arrested soon after her mysterious arrival on March 30.
On Monday, the 33-year-old Chinese woman appeared in a Fort Lauderdale federal courtroom, where she was sentenced to eight months behind bars — essentially time served. She had been found guilty in September of entering a restricted area and lying to federal agents about it.
In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Roy Altman rejected a request by the U.S. attorney’s office that he sentence her to 18 months.
The sentence, likely to be followed by Zhang’s deportation to China, writes an end to a bizarre court case in which the defendant, a woman with limited English skills and no legal training, represented herself — clumsily and ineffectively, for the most part.
She had fired the public defender’s office, though was still receiving advice on the side.
There is a lot of pressure on new judges to give guideline sentences even though the experiences judges rarely give guideline sentences anymore. And the government has a new strategy with the new judges to ask for high-end sentences or above-guideline sentences to dissuade them from giving downward variances. Credit to Judge Altman for rejecting the government's request.