Fugitive who fled to US jailed for over 3 years

Judge metes out stiff term to man who posed as lawyer there, calling him a 'hardened liar'

A fugitive who fled Singapore in 2003, two days before his appeal against a jail term for forgery, and then settled in the United States and practised law for seven years using a bogus name was yesterday jailed for more than three years.

In sentencing Ng Chong Lin to 40 months behind bars for crimes relating to his departure, District Judge Lee Poh Choo said she agreed absolutely with the prosecution's call for a stiff penalty.

"There is an abundance of aggravating factors and zero mitigating factors. (Ng) committed the offences solely for his selfish benefit. His conduct of the trial showed his utter lack of contrition. There was no trace of remorse, even today...

"(Ng) spun tale after tale... As seen in his trial, and today, he remained devious, dishonest and had no integrity," she said.

The US authorities caught Ng out in 2010, and he was jailed for four years for, among other things, aggravated identity theft in impersonating an attorney. His fingerprints, sent to Singapore in 2013, revealed his true identity, and he was deported in May last year.

 
 

Ng, now aged 44, represented himself in a three-day trial last month contesting two charges - applying for a passport in June 2003 under the name of Wee Pui Kee, and then producing the misleading document that bore his photo but another person's name to an airport immigration officer.

Ng pleaded guilty last week to a third charge of leaving the country as a bankrupt.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Gregory Gan said: "(Ng) is clearly an unrepentant offender... and a substantial sentence is necessary to precipitate introspection and self-examination of (his) conduct."

The DPP noted Ng was jailed for three years for cheating offences in 1995; and given a jail term of three years and three months in 2003 for forgery and charges related to a company in which he was a director.

In mitigation, Ng claimed to have successfully applied to leave Singapore while on bail in 2002, but "overlooked" doing so the following year.

This prompted Judge Lee to tell him: "During trial, you consistently held that you did not know (about the fake passport), but now, you say you 'overlooked'."

The judge, in finding Ng guilty of his charges last week, said he blatantly lied during his trial and called him " an inveterate liar".

Between 2006 and 2009, Ng practised immigration law in New York using the name and registration of a real attorney to file documents to the federal authorities on behalf of individuals in immigration matters.

He also claimed to have attended schools in New York when he applied for temporary residence in the US in 2007.

His appeal against his 2003 sentence will be heard at a later date.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2016, with the headline 'Fugitive who fled to US jailed for over 3 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe