AP NEWS

Ex-Dominican Republic ambassador faces no prison in UN case

November 8, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — A former Dominican Republic ambassador who admitted his role in a United Nations bribery conspiracy was spared prison Friday by a judge who credited his substantial cooperation at the trial of a Chinese billionaire.

Francis Lorenzo, 52, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick, who credited his testimony as important in the 2017 conviction of billionaire Ng Lap Seng (ihng-lap-sihng). Ng is serving a four-year prison term after his conviction on bribery, conspiracy and money laundering charges.

Still, he cited the bribery scheme’s “extremely serious offenses” carried out over four years.

“I don’t think it can be understated the damage done to the United Nations,” Broderick said.

He ordered Lorenzo, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in the Bronx, to do 250 hours of community service and to pay $243,965 in restitution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Zolkind said Lorenzo was paid over $1 million in bribes to help win U.N. support for Ng’s plan to use his construction company to build a U.N. center in Macau for Southern Hemisphere nations.

But the prosecutor told Broderick that Lorenzo was a model cooperator once he agreed to plead guilty and tell the government how the bribery scheme was carried out.

“It was clear to us Mr. Lorenzo felt embarrassed and ashamed for his conduct,” Zolkind said.

The prosecutor said Lorenzo was “truthful and reliable” on the witness stand and was so professional in his dealings with the government that he even wore a three-piece suit when he’d meet with prosecutors on Sundays.

Given a chance to speak before the sentence was announced, Lorenzo apologized before hearing he would serve no time behind bars beyond the 20 days he spent in a federal lockup after his arrest.

“It has been difficult, painful, shameful and very scary,” Lorenzo said. “I blame myself for the conduct that has brought me here today.”

After the sentencing, defense attorney Brian Bieber said he was “pleased that Mr. Lorenzo will not serve a day in federal prison and can now move forward and pick up the pieces of his life.”