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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    BIRTH TOURISM CASE: Lawyer sentenced to prison for obstruction of justice

    BIRTH TOURISM CASE: Lawyer sentenced to prison for obstruction of justice

    After raids in Rancho Cucamonga, L.A. and Orange County, Ken Zhiyi Liang of Irvine took money to help witness leave U.S.





    By SCOTT SCHWEBKE / STAFF WRITER

    Published: Feb. 9, 2016 Updated: 8:14 a.m.






    ANA VENEGAS, STAFF FILE PHOTO

    SANTA ANA – An Irvine attorney was sentenced Monday, Feb. 8 to 21 months in federal prison on obstruction of justice charges for taking money to help a material witness in a sweeping birth-tourism case leave the country.

    U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford also ordered Ken Zhiyi Liang, 39, to serve three years’ supervised release and pay a $1,000 fine. He will get credit for the seven months he has spent in jail since his May 2015 arrest.


    Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry Yang described Liang as “remarkably brazen” and argued Monday that he should receive three years in prison and a $50,000 fine.


    “This person lies when it is convenient to him,” Yang said. “He lies about the truth.”


    Liang’s arrest followed a massive raid in March by federal agents who swarmed apartment complexes and homes in Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. They interviewed pregnant Chinese women and seized computers and documents.


    Federal officials said three Chinese companies engaged in visa and tax fraud, money laundering and conspiracy as part of an elaborate, illegal plan to bring the women into the country so their children could automatically obtain citizenship.


    In September, Guilford found Liang guilty on two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of conspiracy to obstruct.


    On Monday, the judge chastised Liang for failing in his obligation as a lawyer to help clients navigate the complexities of the legal system. “It reflects very poorly on you,” he said. “I consider it a serious offense.”


    Liang said he was sorry for his actions. “I sincerely apologize for my terrible judgment,” he told Guilford.


    Liang said he plans to surrender his law license.


    Federal prosecutors accused Liang of accepting $6,000 from a Chinese woman in exchange for getting her out of the country, despite a court order that she remain in the U.S.


    The woman, a former client of Liang’s referred to as “D.L.,” was cooperating with the government and recorded several conversations with Liang.


    In portions of the recorded conversations, Liang appears to warn D.L. that he could get in trouble for helping her return to China, suggests using a “medium” or third party to communicate, and indicates that in exchange for the $6,000, he could guarantee she would get out of the country.


    James D. Riddet, Liang’s attorney, contended during trial that his client’s words were taken out of context and that he only advocated legal routes the woman could take to be allowed to return to China.


    D.L. reportedly traveled to the United States in early 2015 to give birth to a baby who would be an American citizen. The attorneys indicated that D.L. paid nearly $40,000 to a company that set up the “birth tourism” trip. She didn’t realize the company was at the center of a federal investigation.


    No charges have been filed against the companies accused of setting up vacation-style trips for the pregnant women who wanted to give birth in the United States. But 29 Chinese nationals – including D.L. – were designated as material witnesses. D.L. and some of the other witnesses hired Liang to represent them.


    Ten of the Chinese nationals ignored the court order and left the country.


    Contact the writer: 714-796-7767 sschwebke@ocregister.com Twitter: @thechalkoutline

    http://www.pe.com/articles/liang-793...h-country.html

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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