A federal judge refused to hand a diplomat the “get out of jail free card” of immunity for his alleged role in a $1.3 million bribery scheme involving a Chinese billionaire and former U.N. president. Francis Lorenzo, the deputy permanent representative for the United Nations to the Dominican Republic, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted in connection with a massive corruption probe that led to charges against him and five others. At the center of the allegations are Chinese real estate mogul Ng Lap Seng and fellow diplomat John Ashe, a 61-year-old who had served as president of the 68th session of the U.N. General Assembly. Lorenzo, Ashe, Ng, and Ng’s assistant John Yin have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Lorenzo, who claims dual citizenship in the United States and the Domenican Republic, asserted that his status entitles him to diplomatic immunity from prosecution. U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick rejected that position in a scathing 11-page opinion. “Lorenzo does not identify, and I have not found, any case in which a United States citizen who is also a citizen of another country has been granted diplomatic immunity,” he noted.
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