Defendant claims he got faulty legal advice


Saying he received faulty advice from his prior counsels about his possible sentence, a suspect in a sex trafficking case now wants to withdraw his guilty plea.

Wei Lin, through Bruce Berline, said his prior counsels advised him that if he pleads guilty, he would receive a likely sentence of three to six years in prison.

Berline said that prior to Lin’s guilty plea, his then-counsels, David Banes and Michael Dotts, advised him that, if he pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking as part of a plea deal, he would face a likely sentencing range of three to six years imprisonment after enhancements.

Relying on this advice that he would avoid a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, Lin agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

Lin said he was never advised that he might face a sentence of 30 years to life imprisonment under the sentencing guidelines.

Berline said that Lin was neither advised that he could face a sentence of 16 years imprisonment at the low end of the possible guidelines range.

“Defendant Lin expressly relied on this gross mischaracterization when he made his decision to plead guilty,” the lawyer added.

Lin was sentenced to 235 months in prison. He appealed.

In November 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the sentence and remanded the case to the U.S. District Court for the NMI for resentencing. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the District Court erred in calculating Lin’s base offense level. Lin had tried to withdraw his guilty plea as his base offense level was set at 34, but the Ninth Circuit’s decision makes his argument moot.

Under the base offense level 34, the sentence is between 151 months to 188 months imprisonment.

Lin was accused of luring women from China to Saipan on false promises of jobs and then forcing them into prostitution once they got on the island.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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