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CalWatchdog: ARB throws couple in jail

JULY 15, 2010


For Kening Ma of Ontario, bail was set at $150 million. His wife Shirley Ji got a slightly better deal – a mere $75 million. These are, to say the least, extraordinary figures. The previous highest bail on record appears to be the $100 million set in the indictment of Raj Rajaratnam, who was arrested last year in New York for allegedly masterminding a $20 million insider-trading scheme.

“I’ve never seen bail set that high, and I’m a bail bondsman by trade,” Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, said. “I’ve been in the business 25 years, and the highest bail I’ve ever seen is $10 million.”

In any case, 70-count indictment of Ma and Ji – president and vice president, respectively, of Ontario-based Goldenvale, Inc.– is the culmination of a five-year felony criminal investigation. The San Bernardino District Attorney’s office executed the indictment on March 4 of this year. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies arrested the couple six days later.

Given the bail amounts and the size of the indictment, you’d think Ma and Ji – both of which are U.S. citizens, having moved here from China a decade ago – were being charged with international terrorism or corporate skullduggery on an epic scale. In fact, they’re charged with violating California Air Resources Board regulations – specifically, importing motorcycles and ATVs equipped with engines that meant state emissions control laws and then selling them. The indictment lists one count of conspiracy, 33 counts of grand theft (the selling of the ATVs and such, for a total of $27,000), six counts of money laundering (to the tune of $440,000) and 30 counts of “possession of a false certificate” (in this case, smog certificates).

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