Chinese woman who intruded at Mar-a-Lago sentenced to six months

(Reuters) - A Chinese woman who was acquitted of trespassing at U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida was sentenced to six months in jail on Friday on a separate charge of resisting arrest.

FILE PHOTO: A sheriff's deputy stands at the entrance to U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 2, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Lu Jing, 56, was the second Chinese national to be arrested for trespassing last year at the resort where Trump often visits.

Her prosecution was left to local rather than federal authorities, as the president was not present on Dec. 18 when she entered the property and began taking pictures.

A jury on Wednesday cleared Lu of trespassing but convicted her of misdemeanor resisting arrest after police said she balled her hands into fists, crossed her arms and screamed “no, no, no” upon being arrested.

Palm Beach County Judge Mark Eissey imposed the six-month sentence despite defense claims that Lu was a merely a tourist who made an “an honest mistake” and was a casualty of the language barrier. Prosecutors contended Lu had made a “calculated decision.”

“I’m a law-abiding citizen,” Lu told the judge through a Mandarin interpreter at her sentencing hearing, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I’m an ordinary Chinese woman. I never thought I would end up in jail.”

In March of last year, another Chinese national, Yujing Zhang, passed an initial Secret Service checkpoint by passing herself off as a relative of a resort member.

Zhang, 33, was found guilty in U.S. district court of lying to a federal officer and trespassing and sentenced to eight months in prison.

That incident raised fears Zhang could have posed an intelligence threat, but U.S. experts told Reuters it was hard to believe she was a professional spy.

Lu, whose visa had expired, remained in custody pending trial and could be subject to deportation after leaving jail.

During the trial she testified that while on vacation she hired a private tour guide who showed her sites including the president’s resort, the Palm Beach Post reported. She said she walked onto the property and began taking cellphone pictures.

A security guard told the jury he tried to tell her she was not allowed and resorted to hand signals upon realizing she did not speak English, the Post said.

She left but then came back onto the property through another entrance, he said.

Lu testified that after leaving she continued on her sightseeing tour. Town police officers later arrested her in the Palm Beach shopping district.

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Steve Orlofsky