In China, there is a saying: “Money can move the ghosts.” “Walking the back door,” also known as bribery, has become an unwritten rule that everyone understands. However, in the United States, bribing and taking bribes are both crimes that will be prosecuted. In May 2018, a Chinese man named Pei Qingbin entered the U.S. at the Los Angeles International Airport and tried to bribe a U.S. Customs officer. The case of bribery went to court on October 22.
Pei Qingbin’s attempted bribery
Pei Qingbin, 30 years old, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from Qingdao on May 16, 2018. He was found to have misrepresented his wife’s visit to the United States when he entered the Customs area. He was sent to the Immigration Detention Center for further investigation. On the morning of May 17, Pei Qingbin contacted a Chinese official while in the detention center to ask if he could help him and that he would receive US$1,000 as a reward.
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In the process, Pei Qingbin saw that the other party was undecided, so he increased his offer to US$6,000. Pei Qingbin also said to the Chinese customs official: “We are all Chinese, and as my fellow compatriot, can you help me out with this?”
What Pei Qingbin didn’t know was that the U.S. Customs official reported the entire conversation to his superior, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched a sting operation.
On the afternoon of the May 17, the U.S. Customs officer contacted Pei and said that he could help him with his request. In order to show his sincerity, the officer also said: “Do not tell other people about this matter; otherwise, I will lose my job.”
Mr. Pei then contacted his wife via mobile phone and agreed with her that at 5 p.m., the money would be delivered to a coffee shop near the airport by a friend, Zulei Wang.
After Zulei Wang arrived at the coffee shop, he asked if the U.S. Customs officer had stamped Pei Qingbin’s passport. After getting a definitive answer, he handed over an envelope with US$6,000 in cash. During the transaction, plainclothes agents nearby were able to record the entire transaction and both Pei Qingbin and Zulei Wang were arrested.
In August of this year, Pei Qingbin plead guilty to bribery, and on October 22, he appeared in court to receive his sentence. The judge sentenced him to one year and one day in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of US$7,500. Pei Qingbin seems to be satisfied with the judge’s verdict because the maximum sentence for bribing U.S. federal officers is five years.
Translated by Yi Ming