Prison term pushed vs notary public who pleaded guilty to lying


The U.S. government recommends a six-month prison term against a notary public who pleaded guilty to lying in a U.S. passport application.

Assistant U.S. attorney James Benedetto said this is the lowest end of the appropriate range of six to 12 months.

Benedetto also asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to impose a $10,000 fine on Liang Li.

He said Li initially gave information about other people engaged in criminal acts that “did lead to some useful information.”

Benedetto said that Li’s cooperation, however, was not substantial enough to warrant any additional consideration beyond the disposition contemplated by the plea agreement.

Benedetto added that Li’s attempt to withdraw his guilty plea calls his credibility and usefulness as a witness into doubt.

Li, through counsel Janet H. King, had asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI that he be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, alleging that he was pressured to do so.

Liang Li, 34, first came to the CNMI from China in 2004 at the age of 19. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2015. He and his parents own and operate a car rental business on Saipan.

King said that Li wants to proceed to a jury trial.

The indictment charged Li and Yanan Li with false statement in passport application and false document.

Liang Li signed a plea deal with the U.S. government and pleaded guilty last April 3. His previous counsel was Rene Holmes.

King said at the plea hearing last April 2, Li pleaded guilty out of fear of guaranteed jail time if he chose to go to trial.

According to the indictment, on Jan. 10, 2018, the defendants lied in an application for a U.S. passport for another person.

Liang Li allegedly made a false, notarized document purporting to bear the signature of Jian Liu.

Liang Li allegedly certified that he personally witnessed Jian Liu sign a DS-3053 Statement of Consent, and backdating it to Jan. 8, 2018.

The document was submitted to the U.S. Passport Office on Saipan.

Liang Li allegedly knew that Jian Liu had not signed the form on Jan. 8 or Jan. 10 as Liu had departed Saipan on Jan. 10.

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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