John Liu’s Former Treasurer Appeals Jail Sentence
NEW YORK—The convicted former treasurer of New York City Comptroller John Liu’s 2013 mayoral campaign announced she and her lawyer filed a Notice of Appeal on Oct. 23.
Jia “Jenny” Hou was sentenced to 10 months in jail on Oct. 10 for attempted wire fraud, making false statements, and obstructing justice. Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan, one of Liu’s aides, was sentenced at the same time to 4 months in jail for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and attempted wire fraud.
“We are asking the Court of Appeals to review the conviction and we are hopeful that it will reverse the conviction,” states the Notice of Appeal.
Both Hou and Pan were found guilty on May 2 for trying to defraud the people of New York City by recruiting straw donors for Liu’s mayoral campaign in order to illegally obtain public matching funds.
There is no word yet on whether Pan will also appeal.
In Her Defense
Hou spoke at a press conference with her attorney, Gerald Lefcourt, after filing the appeal. The two reiterated Hou’s defense that Hou is young and didn’t understand what she was doing, or what was going on around her.
“I am young and inexperienced. That’s a fact. I’m only 27 this year,” Hou said, noting she was 25 when she worked as Liu’s treasurer.
Judge Richard Sullivan addressed Hou’s age argument during the sentencing on Oct. 11. He said it’s not a crime to be young and inexperienced, noting, “That’s not what the jury convicted you of.”
Lefcourt also reiterated the claim that there was “no evidence” against Hou, noting that several businessmen who admitted they recruited straw donors in the courtroom said they did not tell Hou.
The argument was challenged by prosecutors during the trial. Among the evidence were emails between Hou and people who admitted they recruited straw donors, or those she approached as intermediaries, despite them not being registered as intermediaries.
Evidence also showed that when a New York Times article brought attention to straw donors in Liu’s campaign, Hou immediately contacted several people who had recruited straw donors. Prosecutors raised the question of how Hou knew to contact them if she was unaware of their actions.
The appeal from Lefcourt states: “I believe she is a scapegoat.” Hou said during the Oct. 23 press conference she does not hold any ill feelings toward her former boss, Liu.
On the day she was sentenced, Hou said that while working on Liu’s campaign where numerous accounts of fraud have been uncovered, she did not have the knowledge to stand up and say, “Hey, what’s going on here?”
With additional reporting by Ivan Pentchoukov