Defendant in US passport case pleads guilty

A NOTARY public accused of making a false statement in a U.S. passport application pled guilty at a pre-trial conference on Tuesday afternoon, prompting the federal court to vacate his jury trial.


Liang Li was indicted in the District Court for the NMI on Feb. 2, 2018. He was charged with false statement in passport application and false document.

At the pre-trial conference, Liang Li was represented by his private counsels Rene Holmes and Mark Scoggins while James Benedetto, assistant U.S. attorney, appeared for the federal government.

According to court records, on or about Jan. 10, 2018 Li “knowingly and willfully notarized” a document, “U.S. Department of State of Consent: Issuance of a U.S passport to a minor under age 16” on behalf of Jian Liu and Yanan Li dated Jan 8, 2018.

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona accepted the plea agreement and scheduled Li’s sentencing for Aug. 17, 2018 at 9 a.m.

According to the plea agreement that Li signed on April 2, 2018, he understood that the charge is a class C felony that carries a maximum penalty of not more than 10-year term of imprisonment, and a fine not to exceed $250,000, three years of supervised release, and a $100  special assessment fee.

Benedetto stated that in exchange for Li’s guilty plea, the U.S. government agrees to recommend a sentence at the low end of the guidelines range.

The prosecutor recommended 0 to 6 months imprisonment for Li.

The plea agreement states that Li will surrender all identification documents, authentication features, false identification documents, document making implements, and means of identification except his own identification documents.

In pleading guilty, Li agreed for his notarial-license to be revoked by the government, “and that he shall not attempt to seek a new notarial license until discharged from probation or supervised release.”

Liang Li “signed the document as a licensed notary, and willfully made a false writing document, knowing to contain materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement to the U.S. government by certifying that she personally witnessed a person signing a DS-3053 Statement of Consent and backdating it to Jan. 8, 2018 which document was submitted to the U.S. Passport Office in Saipan knowing that the person had departed the United Sates in the early morning hours of Jan. 10, 2018.”

The document was rejected by the U.S. Passport Office “because it did not have a valid address, and for the fact that the father of the minor child confirmed to a Diplomatic Security special agent that he did not sign the document.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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