Defendant in Human Smuggling Case Signs Plea Agreement

January 20, 2010

Jian Dong, a defendant involved in the human snuggling case along with Governor Fitial's masseuse, signed a plea agreement yesterday pleading guilty to Count One, violating 8 U.S.c. § 1325(a)(1) for attempted improper entry by an alien. The maximum sentence for the Class B Misdemeanor carries a maximum statutory sentence of six (6) months in prison, a maximum statutory fine of five thousand dollars, and a statutory special assessment fee often dollars ($10.00).

The government made several concessions including agreeing "not to seek additional charges against Defendant for conduct described in the Information or the factual stipulation contained in this Agreement." The Government also "agrees to waive a presentence report and agrees to consent to and recommend that Defendant be sentenced immediately upon entry of plea. The Government also agrees to recommend a sentence ofone-year probation."

The defendant agreed to plea guilty and also agreed to:
Factual Stipulation: Defendant stipulates and admits under penalty of perjury that Defendant is an alien; that Defendant knowingly and intentionally attempted to enter Guam at a time and place that was not designated by immigration officers; that on January 5, 2010, Defendant boarded a boat in Saipan to carry out Defendant's plan; and that Defendant paid money to be smuggled from Saipan to Guam by boat. Cooperation: Defendant agrees to cooperate with the Government and will:
a. Truthfully and completely cooperate with the Government, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and any other law enforcement agency designated by the Government concerning their investigation of the facts stipulated to herein and related unlawful activities;
b. Not directly, indirectly, or intentionally disclose anything Defendant knows or has done concerning the Government's investigation into Defendant's conduct to anyone other than Defendant's counsel, and to not warn any subject of this investigation that Defendant or anyone else is being investigated.
c. Truthfully and completely disclose all information with respect to Defendant's activities and others that are inquired into by the Government, which information can be used for any purpose;
d. Attend all meetings and submit to all interviews at reasonable times and places as directed by the Government;
e. Provide to the Government, upon request, any non-privileged document, record, or other tangible evidence relating to matters about which ICE or any designated law enforcement agency inquires;
f. Truthfully testify before the Grand Jury and at any trial and other court proceeding with respect to any matters about which the Government may request Defendant's testimony;
g. Bring to the Government's attention all crimes which Defendant has committed, and all administrative, civil, or criminal proceedings, investigations, or prosecutions in which Defendant has been or is a subject, target, party, or witness.
In other words, she will be providing information to the U.S. on this case, and perhaps others.

A November 29, 2009 Saipan Tribune article states that Jian Dong was part owner of Asahi Health Massage. She and two other owners were sued by Yan Zhen Wang, a masseuse who claimed that she was owed over $7,700 in unpaid wages.

DOI Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta said that the "latest human smuggling case validates the government's concerns," according to the Marianas Variety:
“One of the reasons why we extended federal immigration here in the Northern Marianas was in fact because of security issues,” said Babauta, who was on Saipan recently.
U.S. Attorney Eric O'Malley confirmed that those given subpoenas concerning the release from jail of human smuggling defendant, Qingmei Cheng included Governor Benigno Fitial, his wife, Josie Fitial, Department of Corrections Commissioner Delores Aldan, DOC Capt. Arnold Kaipat Seman, the governor's son-in-law, Capt. Georgia Cabrera, and Corrections Officer Abigail Borja. They were called as witnesses "as someone who might have witnessed the event,"

From the Tribune:
O'Malley said they sent subpoenas to four others-Commissioner Aldan, DOC Capt. Arnold K. Seman, Capt. Georgia Cabrera, and Corrections Officer Abigail Borja.

The U.S. government identified the four as those who escorted Qing to Fitial's residence, allegedly without prior federal authorization and having received the governor's approval.

O'Malley explained that the evidentiary hearing's primary purpose is to find out whether or not there was anything that might have prejudiced the case against Qing.

“We will be calling witnesses. The normal rules of evidence don't necessarily apply. So basically it's just going to be an inquiry and I expect that the judge will have some questions as well,” O'Malley said.

As to whether the judge will issue a determination after the hearing, O'Malley said the judge has the authority to take whatever actions he sees fit.
The evidentiary hearing is scheduled for February 17, 2010.


Anonymous said...

I think one of the most offensive things about this entire scandal is the spin that vilifies those who demand accountability and consequences for the governor and his cronies who were involved. There was a letter to the editor in the Saipan Tribune calling for people to be "humane and considerate." It's insulting to think someone would actually suggest that people should show consideration and humanity to a person who has trampled the rights of thousands of foreigners and jokes about it. Karma is a wondrous thing. No slap on the wrist this time governor. No mercy for you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, only six months in jail, a $5,000.00 fine? This is a misdemeanor? From my point of view, this is a slap on the wrist. I thought human smuggling was more serious than this. These people are heartless and have no consideration for human life. They are in it for the cash. Twenty two people paying what $5,00.00 to $8,000.00 cash each to the two organizers? Run the sums... tax free ....this is an excellent business.... if you have no morals,scruples or interity. Kudos to those federal agents that made the decision to arrest these people before the boat put out to sea. If they had of made it out to sea and the boat sunk with all on board, what sort of charges would be leveled then? The punishment has got to be more severe if this is to be stopped.

Armchair Lawyer said...

Each of us should strive to treat one another with dignity, respect, humanity, and consideration -- without a single, solitary exception! If you need a self-interested reason for doing so, only then will you realize your full potential, regardless of whether or not others realize theirs. Plus, it's the right thing to do.

The plea agreement is for one of the many smugglees or would-be illegal entrants, not for the two alleged smugglers -- whose charge is not a mere misdemeanor.

(No offense intended, but this mistaken assumption is so typical of the very many incorrect conclusions people are jumping to with respect to this “controversy”.)

Wendy, so far you have downloaded the Cheng Complaint, the USAO and CNMI scheduling motions concerning the evidentiary hearing “in aid of jurisdiction,” and the Court's scheduling order.

Could you please put these and any other links to case documents you obtain in one central location like you did for the Covenant Section 903 litigation and the Open Government Act lawsuit?

Thank you.

Wendy said...

Armchair Lawyer

Thank you for responding. I was going to clarify just that.

The two accused of human smuggling are Qingmei Cheng (governor's masseuse) and Jian Li. They are charged with 22 counts of attempting to bring an alien to the U.S., 8 U.S.C. 4 1324(a)(2). Joan Dong is one on the 22 who paid money to be smuggled.

I believe I posted the indictment and other documents in previous posts. When I get time I will post links to all of the court documents in the left sidebar.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so we have to wait once again for Wendy to get it right for the Saipan newspapers, again and again? I too read the Marianas Variety newspaper word "misdemeanor" charge referenced to the charged male smuggler. Jeez, don't you just love the leagalise of armchair lawyer....? Smuggler... smugglees.
Almost warm fuzzy names for some very creepy denizens of these times on earth.

Wendy said...

Here is a post that has a summary of the case, links to court documents, and links to my previous posts. Previous posts have many links to newspaper article and other documents. The post will be updated as documents and posts are added.

Wendy said...

ArmChair and others interested in court documents/links:

I put a link to the summary, court documents and posts in the left sidebar. January 22 (today in Saipan) is the deadline for "any relevant motions to be filed" according to the court rescheduling order. I will post a link to any document that is filed when it is released.