A federal judge has approved a couple’s request to remain free while they appeal their conviction of harboring an illegal alien.
In an order on Friday, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona found clear evidence that Francisco Muna Tydingco and Lili Zhang Tydingco are not a flight risk.
Manglona said the two do not face lengthy sentences that would motivate them to flee.
Lili Tydingco has been sentenced to 10 months in prison, while Francisco Tydingco to 21 months.
The couple have been ordered to start serving their sentences on Jan. 25, 2017. If they are detained while their appeal is pending, the Tydingcos would likely be serving their sentences before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decides their appeals, Manglona said.
Manglona said the offenses of the Tydingcos are not violent crimes. The judge noted that Lili Tydingco has no criminal history and is clearly not a danger to anyone in the community. So long as Franscisco Tydingco, who is an ex-convict, is able to remain drug-free, he does not pose a danger to the community, Manglona added, although even a single failed test or diluted sample will cause the court to reconsider.
The judge said the appeal also raises a substantial question of law which, if the Ninth Circuit finds in the Tydingcos’ favor, will result in reversal.
If the Ninth Circuit affirms their convictions, they must immediately surrender for placement within the Bureau of Prisons.
Last June, a federal court jury rendered a unanimous guilty verdict, finding the Tydingco couple guilty of one count of harboring an alien.
Last Dec. 9, Manglona sentenced Lili Tydingco to 10 months imprisonment with credit for time served. She sentenced Francisco Muna Tydingco to 21 months imprisonment, with credit for time served.
The Tydingcos, through their counsel, appealed, asking the Ninth Circuit to reverse their conviction and vacate their sentence.
A federal grand jury indicted the couple for allegedly receiving money to harbor two illegal Chinese aliens, including a child they enrolled at a public school.
According to Homeland Security Investigations Task Force officer Jesse Dubrall, the child’s purported uncle, Rongxue Liu, stated in an interview that he paid Lili Tydingco $7,000 in exchange for helping him enter into a fake marriage and obtain a green card.
Dubrall said the parents of the child admitted that they agreed to pay Lili Tydingco between $15,000 and $20,000 to take their child to Saipan and get her a green card.