Motel owners intend to plead not guilty to immigration fraud charges
Defence lawyer calls the case 'humiliating'
- The Crown stayed the charges against the Zhongs on Dec. 14, 2018.
Supporters of two Charlottetown hotel owners accused of immigration violations said they're looking forward to seeing justice done, after a brief court hearing Thursday in Georgetown Provincial Court.
"I think we are innocent. That's ... confident," Chang Dong, husband of one of the accused, told CBC after the court hearing. "We [were] treated unfair for this situation."
Dong's wife, Ping Zhong, 60, faces three charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Zhong's brother, Yi Zhong, 58, faces five charges. The Zhong siblings own the Sherwood Motel in Charlottetown.
The charges follow an investigation by the Canada Border Services Agency. According to applications for search warrants, Border Services allege the Zhongs counselled new immigrants who applied under the provincial nominee program to list the motel as their residence in Canada, even though the immigrants did not live there. Border Services lists seven new immigrants in its charges before the courts.
The Zhongs were not present at court Thursday. Their lawyer says they intend to plead not guilty to all charges.
'Respected members of the community'
"This whole case has been very humiliating for them," said Lee Cohen, defence lawyer. "They do not believe they have conducted themselves improperly at any point. They are respected members of the community in Charlottetown."
A former business associate of the Zhongs also attended court to show his support.
"I've been associated with the Zhongs since Ping arrived from China 27 years ago," said Rae Gilman, outside court. "I am confident that we'll eventually get justice on this matter and that they are innocent."
The case was adjourned until August 29 to give lawyers more time to prepare their cases.