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HIGHLAND BEACH, Florida — The lawyer for the previous proprietor of a Florida therapeutic massage parlor says her consumer, who watched the Tremendous Bowl with President Donald Trump, is only a hardworking Chinese language immigrant “dwelling the American dream” and regardless of media reviews on the contrary has by no means tried to promote entry to Trump.

Li “Cindy” Yang owns a variety of therapeutic massage parlors in South Florida, and as soon as owned the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, the place New England Patriots proprietor Robert Kraft allegedly solicited prostitution. After Kraft’s bust, a selfie of Yang with the president on the Trump Worldwide resort’s Tremendous Bowl celebration went viral, adopted by questions within the media about whether or not Yang had exploited her entry to him.

Michelle Merson, one of many legal professionals on a crew representing Yang, advised NBC Information that the accusations have shocked her consumer, who has not been charged with something.

“She is being accused of human trafficking, offering favors to Chinese language politicians and companies by promoting entry to the president,” mentioned Merson. “She’s being accused of some very, very critical issues that she is completely at midnight for… [and] she denies every thing.”

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Although she offered the Orchids of Asia spa way back, Yang continues to run different day spas, and she or he contributes cash to political and charitable causes, mentioned Merson. Since 2017 Yang has contributed $40,000 to Republican and pro-Trump PACS, in accordance with a evaluation of information, and locals say she was additionally identified for getting tables at charity occasions round Palm Seashore, generally paying in money.

“So far as we all know Ms. Yang was simply enthusiastic about being concerned in politics and charities and all types of issues on this nation,” mentioned Merson, acknowledging the agency has simply began digging into her case, and needed to rent a translator to assist with the language barrier. “I feel she was simply fascinated with Donald Trump the best way lots of people are.”

Yang got here to the U.S. in 2003, and her English might be laborious to grasp, in accordance with individuals who know her from Palm Seashore society, and who say racism and the language barrier may be taking part in an element within the media protection of Yang.

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“She appeared like a pleasant individual, socially out and about,” mentioned Karyn Turk, a Palm Seashore resident and conservative radio host who’s married to one of many legal professionals representing Yang.

Carol Brophy, who additionally seems in Yang’s well-known selfie with Donald Trump, mentioned she doesn’t know Yang, and mentioned Yang “photobombed” her “second” with the president.

One among Yang’s different legal professionals, Evan Turk, mentioned “the proof signifies that our consumer has been falsely accused in a fashion that she might by no means recuperate from. “Her identify, her fame and her honor have been destroyed,” Turk added.

The White Home mentioned in an announcement that the president doesn’t know Yang.

Yang needs to clear her identify, mentioned Merson, and is frightened about being linked to alleged intercourse trafficking. Kraft was arrested for soliciting prostitution as a byproduct of a bigger legislation enforcement investigation of alleged human trafficking at space therapeutic massage parlors. In accordance with native police, girls had been introduced from China on momentary work visas believing they’d have respectable jobs.

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“She is scared, she is traumatized … she is in hiding,” Merson mentioned.

After the Miami Herald printed her image with Trump, Mom Jones reported on her firm, GY Investments, and the corporate’s web site, which appeared to promote alternatives to get near President Trump for a worth.

An archived and translated model of her now-defunct web site gives alternatives for “taking photographs with President Trump” and an “alternative to work together with the president, the Secretary of Commerce and different political figures.”

Merson mentioned Yang is misunderstood and will probably be prepared to inform her story quickly. She mentioned Yang has not been contacted by any state or federal investigators and isn’t a member of Trump’s Palm Seashore membership, Mar-a-Lago. Some in Palm Seashore, nonetheless, say that previously Yang appeared to have the sort of entry to the membership that members have.

The initiation payment at Mar-a-Lago is $200,000, and annual dues are $14,000.Berndt Lembcke, managing director of Mar-a-Lago, mentioned the membership by no means feedback about members or membership.

Kraft has denied wrongdoing and has pleaded not responsible.


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