Woman jailed for 20 years for harassing Chinese in $26 million hotel fraud

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A woman who billed investors in a Southern California hotel and condominium project out of at least $26 million was sentenced Monday to 20 years in federal prison.

Ruixue “Serena” Shi, 38, of Arcadia, was sentenced last year after being denied permission to withdraw her plea for wire fraud.

“There is no acceptance of responsibility; There is a denial of responsibility, said US District Judge R. Gary Klausner, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice.

Prosecutors said that from late 2015 to mid-2018, Xi was the general manager of a real estate company based in China that had a Los Angeles office. He solicited investment from mainly Chinese investors in a 207-unit luxury complex being built in the city of Coachella in the desert southeast of Los Angeles.

In reality, Xi spent more money on luxury cars, travel, clothing, food and shopping, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said the $800,000 was involved in a “full-service styling agency” in Beverly Hills.

“While his victims suffered financial ruin and psychological anguish, (Shi) was living largely on his investments,” prosecutors said in a sentencing document.

In the court statement, more than two dozen victims filed statements.

“Many discussed their reliance on Xi’s false promises that their investments would help them obtain visas to immigrate to the United States. A victim also wrote that after losing her retirement savings in Shi’s scheme, she “even contemplated suicide,” the Justice Department statement said.

In addition to jail time, Xi was ordered to pay restitution of $35.8 million.

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