A Chinese woman charged last week for bluffing her way into President Donald Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, had a device used to detect hidden cameras and thousands of dollars in cash in her hotel room, prosecutors said April 8.
Yujing Zhang appeared at a Florida court for a bail hearing on April 8, where prosecutors said a search of her Florida hotel room turned up a signal detector—a device used to detect hidden cameras—nine USB drives, five SIM cards, and over $8,000 in cash, the Washington Post reported.
Zhang, 32, managed to pass a security checkpoint at Trump’s resort on March 30. She had told Secret Service staff at the initial checkpoint that she was at the resort to use the pool, but this story changed when she made it to resort’s reception, according to court documents. Zhang told reception that she was at the resort to attend a United Nations Chinese American Association event, but no such event was scheduled that night.
Zhang was charged with lying to federal agents and illegally entering a restricted area.
Prosecutors told U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman that Zhang could not be trusted, accusing her of lying to investigators about why she was at the property.
“She lies to everyone she encounters,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Rolando Garcia said during a hearing in the U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, Florida. “She has no ties to the United States.”
At the time Zhang was arrested, she was carrying four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive and a thumb drive containing computer malware, court documents said.
Defense attorney Robert Adler described the incident as a “misunderstanding.”
“The only thing Ms. Zhang did was give a common name and she was allowed onto the property,” Adler said. “I don’t understand how this could be a trespass charge.”
Three law enforcement and national security sources told Reuters on April 8 that multiple U.S. agencies are evaluating whether the incident has any ties to Chinese state intelligence and whether it exposed counter-intelligence risks. They described Zhang’s attempted entry of the club as amateurish, but said they are evaluating whether it was intended as a test of the presidential property’s security.
Zhang faces a maximum of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for the charge of making false statements to federal agents, and a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for the charge of illegally entering a restricted area.
There is also no evidence that Zhang has links with Li Yang, a Chinese native and former Florida massage parlor owner. Yang made headlines recently after it was revealed that she ran a consulting firm promising Chinese business leaders access to Trump via events at Mar-a-Lago.
According to a Mother Jones report on April 5, an event promoted by Yang had been scheduled at Mar-a-Lago for the night of the incident. But the event was canceled after media scrutiny of Yang’s activities, the report said.
The Epoch Times previously reported that Yang has ties to the Chinese regime. In 2016, she became deputy president of the Florida branch of the Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China (CPPRC)—a group that operates under the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, a body charged with spreading Beijing’s agenda overseas.
Reuters contributed to this article.