A former NYPD sergeant, Michael McMahon, along with Zhu Yong and Zheng Congying, has been found guilty of stalking a family in New Jersey on behalf of the Chinese government, Your Content has learned.
The verdict was delivered at Brooklyn Federal Court after a thorough trial.
The case involved McMahon, aged 55, who was also convicted of acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Yong, 66, and Congying, 27, both Chinese citizens, were found guilty of stalking and conspiracy charges.
The operation primarily targeted dissidents who had fled China, seeking to intimidate and coerce them into returning to their home country.
The Justice Department, which undertook this landmark prosecution, announced charges against the three men in 2020.
One of the main targets of the operation was Xu Jin, a former Chinese government official who sought refuge in the United States.
Jin, who appeared on China’s most-wanted list in 2015 on bribery charges, was subjected to a plot organized by Chinese government officials.
The collaboration between the convicted individuals began in 2016 when Yong, a New York resident, reached out to McMahon, who was working as a private investigator at the time.
McMahon’s defense attorney claims that he believed Yong was associated with a private company attempting to recover funds.
However, McMahon ended up conducting surveillance and gathering sensitive information about Jin’s personal life, including his address, vehicle registration, social security number, bank account details, and travel history. This information was then passed on to Chinese agents.
According to prosecutors, the timing of McMahon’s surveillance coincided with Jin’s elderly father visiting his son in an attempt to persuade him to return to China.
Chinese authorities had coerced the elderly man into making the trip, having previously incarcerated Jin’s sister due to his refusal to return home.
To further pressure Jin, Chinese operatives harassed his daughter in California and sent a distressing video featuring his mother and sister in tears, hoping to intimidate him into compliance.
Additionally, Jin’s sister-in-law testified that strangers visited her and threatened her, conveying a message that Jin should either return to China and admit guilt or vanish.
The case also involved a meeting between McMahon, Yong’s associate Hu Ji, and a police officer from the Public Security Bureau in Wuhan, China.
This meeting took place at a Panera Bread restaurant in October 2016 and was captured in a photograph, showing McMahon alongside Yong with a grin and his arm around him.
Congying, the youngest member of the group, traveled to Jin’s residence in New Jersey in 2018 and left a note on his door, urging him to return to China to ensure the safety of his wife and children.
Congying’s defense lawyer argued that his client was naively fulfilling a favor for Yong and deeply regretted his actions.
All three defendants denied the charges, claiming they were unaware they were working for the Chinese government.
McMahon asserted that he believed he was employed by a Chinese construction company, emphasizing that his decision to alert the authorities demonstrated his innocence.
However, the jury, after deliberating for two days, found all three men guilty.
McMahon was paid $5,000 in cash at the Panera restaurant, in addition to $14,000 received through checks and wire transfers, with much of the money deposited into his personal accounts and those of his wife and son.
During the trial, it was revealed that McMahon had failed to disclose the Chinese payments accurately on his income tax returns.
Prosecutors argued that he deliberately attempted to conceal his illicit activities.
The defendants will be sentenced at a later date and could potentially face, according to DailyMail.