IN BIRTH TOURISM BUSINESS CASE

Conflicts roil Sun’s financial statements

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Heather Kennedy expressed disappointment yesterday with the inconsistencies in the statements given to the U.S. Probation Office about the financial background of Sen Sun.

Sun, an alleged overstaying Chinese tourist, was indicted for allegedly operating an unlicensed business that offered trip packages to the CNMI for pregnant Chinese women seeking to give birth here.

After listening to U.S. Probation officer Margarita Wonenberg’s report on Sun’s financial background, Kennedy said it appears to her that Sun can hire his own attorney.

Kennedy said she is leaning toward not providing a court-appointed counsel for Sun, but she directed court-appointed counsel Benjamin Petersburg to remain as counsel for Sun while his financial background is being assessed.

Kennedy granted Petersburg’s request to continue the detention hearing as they just found a possible third-party custodian for Sun.

Assistant U.S. attorney Eric O’Malley, counsel for the U.S. government, did not object to the continuance.

The detention hearing will resume on Nov. 15, at 2:30pm.

U.S. Probation officer Wonenberg told the court that she interviewed Sun to clarify his financial background and that he told her that he has no job and that his parents have been paying for his house at $2,800 a month and a vehicle for $1,000 a month. Sun’s parents, however, denied these, Wonenberg said.

The probation officer said that Sun claimed that his parents have $100,000 in China but the parents, Wonenberg said, stated that the amount is only 100,000 renmimbi or about $15,000.

Wonenberg said a car repair shop owner stated that Sun put up $20,000 cash as downpayment for a car loan and has been paying her $1,000 a month for the loan. The car loan was apparently under the shop owner’s name.

The indictment charged Sun with harboring illegal aliens, unlawfully employing aliens, and money laundering.

Sun allegedly charged each client upwards of $15,000 for services that include providing round-the-clock caregivers who were unauthorized to work.

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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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