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Thu Mar 14, 2019, 08:13 PM

Lawyer for massage parlor owner: Yang is 'living the American dream'

HIGHLAND BEACH, Florida — The lawyer for the former owner of a Florida massage parlor says her client, who watched the Super Bowl with President Donald Trump, is just a hardworking Chinese immigrant "living the American dream" and despite media reports to the contrary has never tried to sell access to Trump.

Li "Cindy" Yang owns a number of massage parlors in South Florida, and once owned the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft allegedly solicited prostitution. After Kraft's bust, a selfie of Yang with the president at the Trump International resort's Super Bowl party went viral, followed by questions in the media about whether Yang had exploited her access to him.

Michelle Merson, one of the lawyers on a team representing Yang, told NBC News that the accusations have shocked her client, who has not been charged with anything.

"She is being accused of human trafficking, providing favors to Chinese politicians and businesses by selling access to the president," said Merson. "She's being accused of some very, very serious things that she is totally in the dark for… [and] she denies everything."

Though she sold the Orchids of Asia spa long ago, Yang continues to run other day spas, and she contributes money to political and charitable causes, said Merson. Since 2017 Yang has contributed $40,000 to Republican and pro-Trump PACS, according to a review of records, and locals say she was also known for buying tables at charity events around Palm Beach, sometimes paying in cash.


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