A federal jury reached a split verdict yesterday in the case of a woman and her brother-in-law who are charged with lying in their passport application for the woman's daughter. The 12 jurors found the woman, Aifang Ye, guilty of conspiracy to make a false statement on a passport application. They found her brother-in-law, Zhenyan Cheng, not guilty of the same charge.
The jurors also found Ye guilty of making a false statement in a passport application.
The jurors unanimously agreed that that Ye and Cheng went to the Saipan Passport Office, where they both signed and submitted an application for a passport on behalf of a child, with Cheng posing as the father of the child.
The 12 jurors began their deliberations on Thursday afternoon. They resumed their deliberations yesterday morning.
U.S. District Court for the NMI courtroom deputy Tina P. Matsunaga read the verdict at about 1:15pm.
Ye will be sentenced on Sept. 21, 2012, at 9am.
Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona allowed Ye to remain free until her sentencing.
Attorney David Banes is counsel for Ye. Attorney Bruce Berline defended Cheng. Assistant attorneys general Garth R. Backe and Ross Naughton prosecuted the case.
The trial of Ye and Cheng, both Chinese nationals, began Monday.
According to the U.S. government, Ye came to Saipan on Sept. 12, 2011, to give birth. Her Chinese husband came with her, but left shortly thereafter on Sept. 16, 2011.
Under the terms of her parole, Ye had permission to remain in the CNMI until Oct. 12, 2011.
After giving birth to her daughter on Feb. 28, 2012, Ye applied for a U.S. passport for the child.
Under federal law, a minor under 16 cannot execute a passport applications on his or her own behalf. Both the minor's parents or legal guardians must execute the application on behalf of their child and must appear personally in the passport office to execute the application.
There are exceptions to this “two-party appearance rule,” among them the option of obtaining a “notarized statement or affidavit from the non-applying parent or legal guardian, consenting to the issuance of the passport.”
The child is Ye's second child. Having two children is against Chinese law.
The prosecution alleged that fearing trouble under Chinese law if she obtained from her husband a notarized statement or affidavit pertaining to her daughter, she decided to go with the poseur option-Cheng posing as the father of his brother's child.
Cheng's brother, Xigao, has not returned to the Commonwealth, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Ryan K. Faulkner in an affidavit filed in court.