An Orange County lawyer who represented Chinese birth tourism suspects was sentenced on Monday to 21 months in prison after helping Chinese nationals escape the United States after being designated material witnesses in the case.
Ken Zhiyi Liang, 39, was pronounced guilty in September on charges of obstructing justice, tampering with a witness and conspiring to obstruct justice according to the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
Once the woman that Liang met with, known in court papers only as D.L., was designated a material witness in the federal birth tourism case, she was prohibited from leaving the U.S. The Chinese national cooperated with federal agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations that documented Liang’s crime.
The Irvine, California based attorney “was caught on hours of video and audio recordings selling and marketing his abilities to D.L. to help smuggle her out of the United States in violation of court orders, in exchange for a $6,000 fee to himself and a $1,500 to $3,000 fee for three co-conspirators that would assist him,” prosecutors detailed in a court sentencing brief.
Lang had represented the woman in the birth tourism case until a judge removed him in April 2015. On May 15 Liang met with D.L. with the express intention of taking her to meet co-conspirators at a coffee shop. Federal authorities arrested Liang as the two walked toward his car to travel to the coffee shop. The O.C. lawyer then took the authorities to his office and returned the $6,000 he had already accepted from D.L.
A host of arrest warrants in the Chinese birth tourism case led to raids at several locations in southern California last year. Court documents describe the birth tourism scheme as providing “services to Chinese nationals, who travelled into the United States from China, for the purpose of giving birth to children so that the children could obtain United States citizenship.”
Breitbart News previously reported, “A chief selling point of the baby hotel scheme was allegedly the potential to procure U.S. financial assistance and green cards for foreign parents without quota restrictions.”
The USAO referred to court documents that detail Liang’s assistance in successfully assisting two other material witnesses in fleeing the U.S. Breitbart News previously reported that these two Xiao and Yi, allegedly “…paid only $4,600 of the $32,291 in hospital charges from Yi’s giving birth at an area hospital.”
Court documents detail that clients of just the three maternity tourism rings raided in March 2015 skipped out on potentially $10 million in U.S. hospital bills.
Another witness the attorney helped was arrested at the Los Angeles International airport on April 15.
Twenty-nine material witnesses were designated between the three schemes by May 2015. At least six of the women and four men had fled back to China by that time. They were charged not only with visa fraud, but also with obstruction of justice and contempt of court. An eleventh woman charged who was with visa fraud, but not designated a material witness, also managed to flee back to China, but not before giving birth in the U.S.
Clients of the several maternity tourism schemes included several Chinese government employees. Maternity tourism fees in the scheme for foreign nationals to travel to the U.S. and obtain a birthright claim to citizenship ranged up to $50,000 per case.
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