Then-33-year-old Zhang Yujing was arrested while wearing a gray evening dress and later found guilty of bluffing her way into Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in March 2019. She lied “time and time again” to Secret Service agents about her reason for being there. She carried multiple electronic devices at the resort yet claimed to be attending a gala that she knew had been canceled even before she departed from China.
The Shanghai businesswoman had already served 7 1/2 months in pre-trial detention when District Court Judge Roy Altman handed her an eight-month jail sentence in November 2019.
Later that year, Zhang was turned over to immigration officials to await deportation. Her removal to China was delayed several times, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration authorities told the Miami Herald. After being held at the Glades County Detention Center three times, Zhang arrived in China on Nov. 14.
At the time of her sentencing, Zhang said she was “to meet the president and family and just make friends.” When an incredulous judge questioned her about whether she thought she could really meet the Trumps, Zhang laughed loudly and said she hoped to meet other people, too.
Zhang then told the judge that the president told reporters that he had invited Zhang to Mar-a-Lago. But Altman said that was another lie.
It’s unclear what Zhang’s motives were, although the judge said it was clearly about more than getting a photo opportunity. Trump was staying at Mar-a-Lago that weekend but was away when Zhang arrived at the resort.
While at the immigration facility, Zhang grew desperate to expedite her return to China. The Miami Herald reported that she filed a petition in December 2020 to speed up the process, but wasn’t successful.
Zhang wrote that she was held at the Glades County Detention Center with no money to call her family in China and needed an attorney to gain her freedom, according to court documents.
Lu Jing, 56, the second Chinese national to be arrested for illicitly entering the resort in 2019, was sentenced to six months in jail in February 2020 on the charge of resisting arrest.
Trump bought Mar-a-Lago in 1985 and turned it into a private club in 1993. He changed his permanent residence to Florida from New York in 2019.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.