Thursday, September 17, 2015

Infamous Chinese social media celebrity Guo Meimei sentenced

Beijing (CNN)One of China's most high-profile social media celebrities was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of 50,000 yuan ($7,800) on Thursday for running an illegal gambling den.
Guo Meimei, 24, gained notoriety in 2011 after flaunting a extravagant lifestyle online -- complete with luxury cars and flashy boyfriends -- all while claiming to work for a company affiliated with the Red Cross.
In reality, Guo was illicitly operating casinos out of private apartments in Beijing, a court said.
Guo pleaded not guilty to that charge at the trial, although she admitted to participating in gambling, according to China's state news agency Xinhua.
    "I shouldn't have participated in gambling, but I don't think my actions constituted (a) crime," she said in her final statement.
    "I know I have made mistakes, and I'm truly regretful," she added, while arguing she deserved leniency because she lacked "legal knowledge" when the crimes occurred.
    Zhao Xiaolai, another suspect involved in the case received a two-year sentence and a fine of 20,000 yuan ($3,125).
    Guo's attorney Wu Junqiang told state media Beijing Morning Post that Guo has not yet decided whether to appeal.

    Fall of Guo Meimei

    Last August, after her arrest, Guo made a dramatic televised confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex that was splashed across Chinese front pages.
    By then, her Weibo microblog account -- which featured pictures of her riding a jet ski in a bikini, and another posing behind the wheel of a Lamborghini -- had nearly two million followers.
    It was her careless posts to followers that tipped off police about her illicit activities.
    Her ostentatious photos had sparked widespread outrage about how a supposed charity worker could sustain such a lavish lifestyle, leading to a drop off in donations to China's Red Cross the following year, even though the organization denied any connection with Guo.

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