2005-06-24 / Community

‘Golden Venture’ Vulture Found Guilty In Grounding

By Howard Schwach

The woman who masterminded and bankrolled the ill-fated voyage of the “Golden Venture,” the ship that wounded up foundering on the shores of Rockaway in 1993 was convicted on Wednesday of running a global smuggling ring that included the grounding that left ten Chinese nationals dead on our shore. More than 300 illegal immigrants, who had paid up to $40,000 apiece for a place on the decrepit ship tried to reach shore when the ship was intentionally grounded in Breezy Point. Many of those who made it to the shore were rounded up and eventually given asylum in the United States.

Cheng Chaui Ping, better known as “Sister Ping,” faces at least 35 years in prison as a result of the conviction in federal court. The jury, however, deadlocked on the more serious charge of hostage-taking, which could have brought a life sentence to the 56-year-old woman, who ran her far-flung, multi-million dollar empire from a souvenir shop in Chinatown.

The jury convicted Ping on the charge of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling, money laundering and trafficking in ransom proceeds.

In 1994, Ping fled to China and continued to run her empire from there, according to government sources.

Her henchmen testified at the trials that Ping ordered the Golden Venture to Kenya to pick up the illegal immigrants, who had been stranded there by another captain.

One of those men, Hui Yu Weng, testified that he ordered the ship scuttled on the Rockaway beach because he could not find anybody to receive the cargo. Ping was captured by the FBI when she tried to board a plane at a Hong Kong airport with a false American passport. After a long, three-year battle, she was extradited to the United States for trial.

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