Each of President Donald Trump’s trips to his “Winter White House” at Mar-a-Lago costs taxpayers millions in transportation and security — but a college freshman walked right into the private club, past the Secret Service, while Trump and his family were staying there.
“I wanted to see how far I could get,” Mark Lindblom, an 18-year-old business major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told the judge presiding over his case, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Lindblom was in Florida for Thanksgiving last year visiting his grandparents, who are members at Palm Beach Bath & Tennis Club, which shares a beach with Mar-a-Lago. The teen found a tunnel that runs from the beach into the club, through which Mar-a-Lago members can access the beach. After waiting in line with other beachgoers, he passed through a metal detector and then by Secret Service agents, who wanded him and let him through.
“We have no reason to believe he had a political, criminal, or terroristic purpose,” the Assistant U.S. Attorney John McMillan said in court on Tuesday, according to the Palm Beach Post. “It was a foolish decision he did on a lark.”
All Lindblom did was take a few pictures on his phone, and he got off with a slap on the wrist. The teen could have spent up to 6 months in jail, but U.S. Magistrate William Matthewman opted, instead, to put him on probation for a year.
“I’m sure you’ll become a productive member of society despite this youthful indiscretion,” the judge said before sending Lindblom on his way.
Yujing Zhang wasn’t so lucky. The 32-year-old Chinese national is facing charges that could land her a year in jail and up to $350,000 in fines for entering the Mar-a-Lago grounds with authorization, according to the Miami Herald.
Zhang shelled out around $20,000 to buy her way into an event at the private club, which had been cancelled by the time she got there. So she lied her way in — with malware. (She’s not great at lying.)
She told Secret Service that the only reason that she’d come to Mar-a-Lago was because some guy named Charles had told her to over WeChat.
Cover image: President Donald Trump is seen sitting inside his armored SUV as he departs his Mar-a-Lago estate to attend Easter services at nearby Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, Sunday, April 21, 2019, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)