Man accused of lying to CBP out on bail

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A man who was recently brought to court for lying to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was released on a $3,000 unsecured bond last week.

Following his initial appearance at the U.S. District Court for the NMI Last Friday, designated judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio allowed Seongil Lee to be released on a $3,000 unsecured bond as long as he complies with terms and conditions of his release.

Lee, who is charged with one count of making false statements, was ordered to return to court for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 5, at 9am.

During the hearing, Bruce Berline was appointed by the court to represent Lee while assistant US Attorney Garth Backe appeared for the U.S. government.

According to court documents, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed the criminal complaint against Lee after he presented a South Korean passport in the name of “Nasaro Lee” and made false statements and representations to CBP officers at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport last Oct. 16.

The complaint stated that Department of Homeland Security records showed that on April 5, 2010, CBP denied Lee’s entry into the United States at the Los Angeles Port of Entry. The inadmissibility was based on an interview with CBP where Lee admitted to a controlled substance conviction in Japan. Lee also admitted to serving five years and eight months of imprisonment for trafficking a controlled substance into Japan from South Korea.

On May 21, 2019, Lee submitted an Electronic System for Travel Authorization application through the DHS official website. However, because Lee’s ESTA application failed to disclose that he was a convicted felon, the application was denied.

Then, on Oct. 1, 2021, an ESTA application was submitted using the name “Nasaro Lee,” that also failed to disclose Seongil Lee’s prior felony conviction. The ESTA application under “Nasaro Lee” was approved on Oct. 1, 2021, and he was admitted to Saipan, according to DHS’ system.

On Oct. 16, Lee presented a South Korean passport in the name of “Nasaro Lee” at the Saipan airport with a different date of birth and also presented his fingerprints to CBP.

The complaint noted that the fingerprints obtained from Seongil Lee’s previous encounters and Nasaro Lee matched.

In addition, after reviewing images taken by CBP of Lee back in 2010 and comparing it to the image taken of Nasaro Lee last October 16, ICE claims they are the same individual.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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