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Lili Zhang Tydingco sentenced to 90 days for harboring minor alien

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DISTRICT Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has sentenced Lili Zhang Tydingco to 90 days’ imprisonment for harboring a minor alien.

After serving prison term, Tydingco will be placed on supervised release for three years, the judge added.

As part of Tydingco’s supervised release, she must perform 50 hours of community service at the direction of the U.S. Probation Office, but this condition will be suspended if Tydingco is gainfully employed.

She was also ordered to pay a fine of $500 and a special assessment fee of $100 to be paid immediately after sentencing.

Moreover, Tydingco will report to an authorized immigration official for deportation.

If deported, “she shall remain outside the United States and not reenter without the permission of the Attorney General. If deportation does not occur and she is released pending further immigration proceedings, defendant shall immediately report to the U.S. Probation Office to begin her term of supervised release,” the court ordered.

In Sept. 2019, following two and a half hours of deliberation, jurors found Tydingco guilty of one count of harboring a minor alien. It was the second time she was convicted of the same charge.

In June 2016, she and her husband, Francisco Muna Tydingco were convicted of harboring a 10-year-old girl they brought to the islands from China in 2013.

The jury found Mrs. Tydingco guilty of harboring an alien and Mr. Tydingco guilty of aiding and abetting his wife.

On Sept. 13, 2013, the Tydingcos and their two minor children went to China where they met with the parents of the 10-year-old girl. The couple then brought the girl to Saipan and enrolled her in a public school two weeks after arrival.

The girl’s CNMI parole visa expired on Nov. 5, 2013, but she stayed with the Tydingcos until Feb. 19, 2015.

In a seven-page ruling on Sept. 30, 2016, Judge Manglona denied the motion for acquittal of the defendants, saying there was no question that the 10-year-old girl was an alien who remained in the U.S. in violation of federal immigration law; or that the Tydingcos harbored her by giving her shelter in their home.

On Dec. 9, 2016, Mrs. Tydingco was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment while Mr. Tydingco was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment.

The Tydingcos, through their lawyers, appealed and asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reverse their conviction and vacate their sentences.

The appellate court remanded the conviction of the Tydingcos to the district court for a new trial. The Ninth Circuit judges said the jury could have convicted the defendants on an invalid theory.

On May 10, 2019, the U.S. government opted not to pursue the charge against Mr. Tydingco, and asked the federal court to dismiss the charge against him.

On May 30, 2019, Assistant U.S. Attorney Garth Backe, who represented the U.S. government, refiled a superseding indictment against Mrs. Tydingco, charging her with harboring an illegal minor alien.  

Attorney Bruce Berline, who represented Mrs. Tydingco, said his client did not hide the minor child in anyway.

The minor child went to school in three public schools on Saipan, he said, adding that she had her own room with access to internet, and her friends knew where she was.

Berline previously told Variety that they will again appeal the verdict to the Ninth Circuit, “We have been there before. We disagree with the verdict, but we certainly respect it.”

He said if the Ninth Circuit remanded it again for the same reason as the last time, then the defense could raise a double jeopardy issue.

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