NEW YORK (AP) - Bail was revoked Tuesday for the chief assistant to a billionaire Chinese real estate mogul at the center of a Democratic campaign fundraising scandal in the 1990s.
NEW YORK (AP) — Bail was revoked Tuesday for the chief assistant to a billionaire Chinese real estate mogul at the center of a Democratic campaign fundraising scandal in the 1990s.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn withdrew Jeff C. Yin's $1 million bail after prosecutors said the U.S. citizen had lied repeatedly to investigators. The Manhattan jurist said she could no longer trust he would not flee.
Prosecutors said he had failed to reveal he had a Chinese passport and access to nearly a half million dollars in cash from a safe deposit box that he shared access to with his boss when both men were arrested earlier this month. They said he also lied about where he lived.
Yin was chief assistant to 68-year-old Ng Lap Seng. Ng and Yin have been charged with lying about plans for $4.5 million in cash brought into the U.S. over several years aboard private jets. Defense lawyers call it a misunderstanding, including the latest claims about what Yin told federal authorities after his arrest.
Federal Defender Sabrina Shroff told Netburn it was unreasonable to think her client would try to take money from Ng's safe deposit box, especially after Yin turned down an offer by Ng to hire a private attorney to represent him.
Noting that the charge her client faced carried a maximum potential prison sentence of only five years, Shroff suggested Yin was being used as a pawn as the United States pursued others.
"The government is not after Mr. Yin. He is just a link," she said. "Link by link by link, they plan to make their way up the ladder to really charge the person they were after."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richenthal told Netburn that Yin had a plan to escape and the undisclosed passport and access to cash were what he needed to carry it out.
"Mr. Yin decided he wanted out," he said. "He wanted to flee and he's been caught in his own lie."
Shroff said Yin would not risk his mother's home, offered against the bail, to run off with "a measly half million."
"It's not even a drop in the proverbial bucket," she said. "It's less than that."
In 1998, a Senate committee reported Ng sent over $1.1 million to a one-time Little Rock, Arkansas, restaurant owner, who contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic National Committee and later pleaded guilty to a felony. Ng visited the White House 10 times from 1994 to 1996 and had his photograph taken with President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
This story has been corrected to refer to Ng Lap Seng as Ng on second reference.