Jing Ming Zhang -- 35211-054
10 Years -- Heroin Conspiracy
I was in the fashion-designing business and advertising through a television station in Chinatown of New York City. There I was introduced to the station director, Mr. Huang, who later introduced me to a man from Taiwan named Bobe Chan. Mr. Chan was interested in finding a hotel in China to buy and to start business. That's when Mr. Huang suggested that I go to China to find such a suitable hotel. China is my country of birth, and I was familiar with locating businesses there.
Bobe Chan offered me a 10% partnership in the hotel profits if I found one in China for him to buy. I thought it was a great opportunity for me. I did not have to invest any money and could be my own boss by having a 10% ownership of the hotel.
I flew to China and started searching for a hotel for sale. Within three months I had found one. I called Mr. Chan and told him my discovery. He was so excited to see the hotel that he took an immediate flight to China to take a look at the property for himself. Bobe Chan arrived and was pleased with what he saw. He then agreed to purchase the hotel and signed the sale contract.
I anxiously waited for Bobe Chan to purchase the hotel and start business. After two months he replied that he did not have the money to purchase the property. Chan then told me that he had a drug business in Thailand and that with my assistance he would have the funds to make the purchase. He seemed desperately in need of my help, and by that time, I wanted the hotel.
I was afraid to become involved in dealing drugs because I knew trafficking was illegal, but Bobe Chan convinced me that I would not be dealing with the drugs, nor would I have any contact with the drugs. He said that he only needed me to run errands, make phone calls to reserve restaurants and hotels for his clients - pre-paying when making reservations would become part of my responsibilities. Chan told me it was not a crime to do these things for someone.
In China this is true; it is not a crime to make reservations for someone even if they are committing a crime. There is not a conspiracy law in my country, and therefore I believed him. I followed all of Bobe Chan's instructions. I did not profit from any of these errands, and my basic motive was to buy the hotel so I could be a partner in its ownership.
As months passed, I pushed for Bobe Chan to pay for the hotel. He never paid any money to the sellers even after signing the sale contract. Chan then came to me and said that he still did not have enough money to purchase the hotel. He wanted more help from me in order to get the rest of the money. I refused, and at this time told him that I did not want to help him anymore. I also told him I needed him to pay me for what I've charged on my credit cards for his clients. I returned to the U.S. and tried to contact Bobe Chan for the money he needed to reimburse to me. His phone was disconnected, and he no longer resided at his address. Bobe Chan was nowhere to be found. I hired an attorney to file a suit against him for reimbursement. The suit did not go anywhere because Mr. Bobe Chan was missing.
In October of 1993, approximately two years later, I was still employed as a fashion designer at the same company. One day while at home with my daughter, the FBI came to arrest me. I was charged with conspiracy to import narcotics.
I later found out that Bobe Chan had been arrested and was facing life in prison for drug charges. The FBI made a deal with him, and Chan turned in names in exchange for a shorter sentence. Bobe Chan, the boss-man and chief organizer himself, received a two-year sentence. My co-defendant, Jing Xi Chen, was acquitted. He assumed a role in this case only because I introduced him to Chan before he and I decided to go into the hotel business. Jing Xi Chen is in the leather-producing business, and Chan had a leather factory in Taiwan. I simply introduced them to each other because Jing Xi Chen wanted to talk to Chan about doing leather business. Chan falsely named Jing as another conspiracy criminal in order to receive a lighter sentence.
Jing Xi Chen went to trial and was found "not guilty" of any charges. I still received a charge for introducing Jing to Bobe Chan. This caused me to be unable to use the so-called "safety valve" provision for first time offenders.
During my trial the translator spoke Cantonese. I speak Mandarin (my first language), and these are two entirely different forms of the Chinese language. I told this to my attorney, but he insisted to proceed with trial. There were many mistranslations and, I am sure, between the interpreter and myself there was a lot of confusion. This can be proven through my trial transcripts.
I had witnesses throughout my trial who testified on my behalf. Of importance were the original sellers of the hotel in China. They testified that Bobe Chan had indeed gone to China to meet with the three of them and see the hotel. They also testified that Chan signed and agreed to the contract. The court gave permission for these individuals to enter the U.S. for the purpose of offering their testimony.
There was also the attorney I had hired to sue Bobe Chan for reimbursement, and Jing Xi Chen who testified that he and Chan were introduced only for the intention to discuss the leather marketing industry.
I believe after you have read my story you will find the injustice served upon me. I only wanted the 10% partnership in the hotel business that Bobe Chan offered me. I feel that I should be punished for helping him with his wrongdoings of business, but it seems unfair to serve ten years in prison for assisting the organizer of this crime - who only got two years. I have currently served over six years and wish that you can help me obtain an earlier release.