A Chinese businesswoman charged with lying to a Secret Service agent to gain entry to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club was found guilty on Wednesday.
Yujing Zhang, 33, was arrested on March 30 after she lied to gain entry to the Palm Beach, Florida, resort. She faces up to six years in prison.
Zhang told a Secret Service agent guarding the club that she was there to use the pool. Her name was not on the official membership list, but a manager at the club reportedly thought she was the daughter of a member.
Once inside, Zhang then told a front desk receptionist she was there to attend an event for the “United Nations Chinese American Association” and that she was there early to take pictures. That event had been canceled, though, which prosecutors said Zhang knew.
Trump was staying at Mar-a-Lago that weekend but was golfing at his nearby club when Zhang arrived.
Prosecutors charged Zhang with one count of making a false statement to a federal officer and one count of entering a restricted property. She was not charged with espionage, but prosecutors filed evidence they said could have national security implications, according to The Associated Press.
At the time she was detained, Secret Service agents said Zhang was carrying a computer, a hard drive, four cellphones and a thumb drive containing malware. Agents later recanted the malware claim. Zhang also had on her two Chinese passports.
Zhang’s trial took a series of bizarre turns in recent months. Originally from Shanghai, the consultant fired her public defenders in June and said she would represent herself. Judge Roy Altman urged her to reconsider at every pretrial hearing.
The trial briefly stalled before jury selection on Monday when Zhang entered the courtroom wearing a brown jail uniform instead of civilian clothing and said she had not been provided with underwear. (Defendants usually wear civilian clothing in trials in an effort not to prejudice jurors against them.) Zhang later told Altman, “I don’t know why I am here,” and said she hadn’t prepared her case because she thought the trial had been canceled.
“You know precisely why you are here,” the judge responded, according to the AP.