While one of the ghost scam cases proceeds through trial, another has reached a judgement. On Friday, the three defendants were found guilty in a bench trial.
Huifei Lin, 42, was convicted on four counts of grant theft, and another for attempted grand theft. Caiqiong Chen, 43, and Lirong Lin, 57, were each convicted of three counts of grand theft.
The prosecution and defense agreed last week for a judge to rule on the case through a bench trial, which means that the defendants waived their right to jury. The case had been on track for a jury trial as recently as April 15, but had not reached the jury selection stage.
As attorneys on both sides stipulated, the judge based his judgement on evidence from all the documents in the court docket, including preliminary hearing transcripts, says Assistant District Attorney Alex Bastian.
"The judge's finding of guilt as to all three defendants reaffirms our decision to prosecute this case," says Bastian. "We ask the community to continue to be vigilant and to report these crimes as they occur."
Like the defendants in the two other ghost scam cases, these three were accused of scamming elderly Chinese women out of money and jewelry by tricking that into thinking that a family member was in imminent danger. The only way to save the loved one from death, they told the victim, was to perform a purification ceremony, in which the victim places her money and jewelry into a bag so that they can be blessed. The defendants then switched the bag with an identical one, leaving with the valuables.
Sentencing is set for May 3.