Man accused of lying to CBP pleads guilty


A man accused of lying to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection pleaded guilty before the District Court for the NMI last week.

Seongil Lee, also known as Nasaro Lee, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to CBP while being screened at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

According to the plea agreement, when asked by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations special agent whether he had ever violated any law related to drugs, Lee answered “no,” a statement he knew was false in that he had previously been convicted and sentenced to seven years’ for trafficking a controlled substance into Japan from South Korea.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather Kennedy accepted Lee’s guilty plea and recommended that Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona accept the plea. Lee will be sentenced on Nov. 24.

Making a false statement carries a maximum penalty of not more than five-year imprisonment, a fine not to exceed $250,000, and not more than three years of supervised release.

Lee was allowed to wait out his sentence out of custody on a $3,000 unsecured bond.

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 lied to CBP officers at the Saipan airport last Oct. 16.

The complaint stated that Department of Homeland Security records showed that CBP denied Lee’s entry into Los Angeles on April 5, 2010, 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.

On May 21, 2019, Lee submitted an Electronic System for Travel Authorization application through the DHS 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 Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores 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

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