Sex trafficking leader to be resentenced


The appellate court has vacated the 235-month prison sentence imposed on a man accused of sex trafficking and the federal court on Friday set the resentencing later this month.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona set Wei Lin’s resentencing for Jan. 27 at 9am.

The U.S. government will be asking the court to impose the same sentence, according to the minutes of the conference, quoting assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe.

Attorney Benjamin Petersburg, on behalf of Lin’s court-appointed counsel Bruce Berline, stated that based on his conservative calculation, the sentencing guideline range is between 41 and 51 months.

Lin has been in federal prison for 63 months now, since September 2011.

Manglona said the information she received from the U.S. Marshal’s Office was that it will take about three weeks for Lin to be transported back for the hearing.

Petersburg informed the court that he was told by the U.S. Marshal that all they need is a court order for Lin to appear for the proceeding.

Last November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the federal court’s sentence of 235 months imprisonment imposed on Lin, who was convicted of sex trafficking when he lured women from China on false promises of jobs and then forced them into prostitution once they got on Saipan.

The Ninth Circuit reversed Manglona’s base offense level determination, saying she erred in calculating Lin’s base offense level, and remanded the case for resentencing.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision makes Lin’s guilty plea withdrawal argument moot since he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea because his base offense level was set at 34. Under base offense level 34, the sentence is between 151 months to 188 months imprisonment.

The Ninth Circuit judges said they need not reach Lin’s substantive unreasonableness argument since they vacate his sentence on the base offense level error.

The indictment charged Lin with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and several counts of sex trafficking. Lin pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count, which carried no mandatory minimum.

In exchange, the substantive sex trafficking offenses, which carried 15-year mandatory minimums, were dismissed.

After Manglona made it clear that the base offense level for Lin’s crime would be 34, Lin moved to withdraw his guilty plea, based on Berline’s advice that his base offense level would be 14.

Manglona denied Lin’s motion and sentenced him in March 2015 to 235 months in prison.

Lin, through Berline, appealed to the Ninth Circuit. He argued that Manglona erred in determining his base offense level.

Berline asserted that if Manglona correctly determined his base offense level, then the judge erred in denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

Manglona found that the U.S. government had proven by clear and convincing evidence that Lin was the leader of the sex trafficking organization.

A superseding indictment charged Lin and co-defendant Yanchun Li with a count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and to benefit financially from a sex trafficking venture; three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion; and one count of financially benefitting from a sex trafficking venture.

In June 2012, Lin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and to benefit financially from a sex trafficking venture.

Li also pleaded guilty and was sentenced in February 2013 to 60 months or a five-year prison.

According to the indictment, Rosen Music Studio was a karaoke bar in Chalan Laulau that also provided sexual services for an added fee. Most, if not all, of the commercial sexual acts were performed outside the bar.

In exchange for a portion of the proceeds, Lin provided Rosen Music Studio with women to perform sexual services.

Lin paid Li to, among other things, transport the women back and forth from the Rosen Music Studio to the Hong Apartment, and in some cases, to and from hotels.

The three Chinese women victims traveled to the CNMI in 2010 based upon Lin’s promises such as jobs at a new hotel that Lin was purportedly opening on Saipan.

The defendants collected from each of the three victims over $4,000, took their passports, and told them they would likely be killed by criminals, if they go outside.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case with the assistance of the Department of Homeland Security/Homeland Security Investigations.

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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