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Jury selection starts Monday for suspected Mar-a-Lago intruder

Posted: 6:46 AM, Sep 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-09 08:46:50-04
Jury selection starts Monday for suspected Mar-a-Lago intruder

PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Chinese woman accused of lying her way into President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach earlier this year is set to go on trial on Monday.

Yujing Zhang, 33, will represent herself in Fort Lauderdale federal court on charges of entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, as well as making false statements to a federal officer.

U.S. District Judge Roy Altman, who's overseeing the case, has repeatedly questioned Zhang's decision to serve as her own attorney, even accusing her twice of playing games with the court.

According to her arrest affidavit, Zhang lied her way into the reception area of Mar-a-Lago on March 30 by falsely telling security she was a member and was going to swim.

The affidavit said Zhang showed security two Republic of China passports, both in the name of "Zhang" with her photograph.

At first, security was unable to verify Zhang's name on Mar-a-Lago's guest access list. However "due to a potential language barrier issue, Mar-a-Lago believed her to be the relative of member Zhang and allowed her access onto the property," the affidavit stated.

Once entering the reception area, Zhang told a receptionist she was at Mar-a-Lago for a "United Nations Friendship Event" between the U.S. and China, which was a nonexistent event.

Zhang claimed "she came to Mar-a-Lago early for the event so she could familiarize herself with the property and take pictures. Zhang stated she had documentation purportedly showing her invitation to the event, but agents were unable to read it as it was in Chinese," the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, due to Zhang's lack of legitimate documentation, as well as contradictory statements she made to Secret Service agents, she was detained and taken to the agency's West Palm Beach office for questioning.

🔽 READ ARREST AFFIDAVIT 🔽

Agents said Zhang was carrying four cellphones, an external hard drive and a thumb drive initially thought to have had malware installed on it. It was later determined there was no malware on the thumb drive.

In addition, federal prosecutors said agents found a device in Zhang's hotel room that could detect hidden cameras. They also discovered $8,000 in U.S. and Chinese currency, nine USB drives, five USB cards and several credit cards in her name.

Prosecutors said Zhang has no ties to South Florida, and it's unclear what her motive was.

🔽 VIDEO OF YUJING ZHANG 🔽

According to court records, 45 potential jurors will be brought in for jury selection on Monday morning. Zhang's trial is expected to last roughly one week.

Prosecutors plan to call multiple witnesses including Secret Service agents, an FBI forensic examiner, FBI intelligence analysts, and an FBI language specialist.

Some of the evidence expected to be presented to jurors includes surveillance video from Mar-a-Lago, video of Secret Service agents questioning Zhang, information obtained from her iPhone 7, as well as plane tickets and hotel receipts.

If convicted of both charges, Zhang faces a maximum sentence of six years in federal prison.

This story was originally published by Matt Sczesny on WPTV.