Yujing Zhang, the Chinese woman detained in March for trespassing at Mar-a-Lago — President Donald Trump’s Florida country club — was found guilty of lying to federal agents and for entering a restricted area.
Zhang, who represented herself after declining the court’s offer of a public defender, appeared to show no emotion upon receiving the verdict. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 22 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
On March 30, she was mistakenly allowed in by Mar-a-Lago staff. In addition to the purported trespassing, prosecutors alleged that she lied to Secret Service officers as she was let through the checkpoints. She was only discovered when a receptionist realized her name was not on the access list for the club.
“She was then being questioned and surrounded by more agents. She had a blank face, total control. She was answering their questions [in English],” Ariela Grumaz, a receptionist at Mar-a-Lago, testified on Tuesday.
Zhang’s trial was initially delayed after a bizarre pretrial hearing in August.
During the hearing Zhang, at times, appeared to not hear the judge, refused to answer some questions verbally, claimed she was feeling “sick” and “dizzy,” and generally didn’t cooperate with the proceedings.
“I’m not available today,” she said.
U.S. Judge Roy Altman of Florida’s Southern District accused Zhang of “playing games” with the court.
Zhang moved between speaking English and Mandarin in the courtroom this week.
She was born in 1986, and told a Florida court in April that she works for a Chinese company called Shanghai Zhirong Assets Managements Corporation. She also owns a home in China worth approximately $1.3 million and drives a BMW.
When Zhang was detained, investigators said they found several electronic devices on her and in her room at a local hotel, purportedly including a device to detect hidden cameras. Early on, prosecutors suggested Zhang was being investigated for potential links to espionage, but no further charges have been brought. Before they were initially dismissed, public defenders for Zhang argued the whole thing was a misunderstanding and said she had not made “direct misrepresentations” to federal agents as alleged.
The government argued that she clearly did something wrong by going onto the property in the first place, then by lying to federal agents.
After about half a day of testimony from government witnesses, Zhang would at times refer to her assigned public defender.
In her closing statement, she reiterated that she did not believe she’d done anything wrong.
“Good afternoon. This is my first time so I am nervous,” she said. “As you’ve seen, on the beginning what’s happening. I would said I made contract to see President and Ivanka. I do think the fact that I did nothing wrong. I did not lie, I do think I went into Mar-a-Lago to have a visit. Thank you for your attention.”
Karen D’Uva is a freelance producer based in Florida.