74.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesPhony Ambassador Agrees to Plea Arrangement

Phony Ambassador Agrees to Plea Arrangement

June 18, 2007 — The St. Thomas woman who allegedly conned her way into parades, motorcades and special police protection by posing as a U.S. Ambassador agreed to a plea bargain Monday, officials said.
Elena Lin Yee, 67, admitted she was not a U.S. ambassador and agreed not to call herself by the diplomatic titles she used to manipulate officials in several states, said U.S. Attorney Anthony Jenkins in a written statement.
"… Yee, who often went by the title of 'Her Excellency Ambassador-at-Large Elena Lilly,' claimed to be an heiress to the Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical family fortune, and was successful in conning law enforcement officers and other government officials from several state, territorial and foreign governments into providing her with protective services and other perks, including motorcades, parades, and access to sensitive events," Jenkins said.
Yee, a resident of Sapphire Beach, was arrested on St. John on Sept. 6, 2005, when she allegedly tried to bypass the U.S. Customs checkpoint after returning from Tortola.
The credentials she showed the Customs agent were real, officials said, but Yee did not have authorization to use them. Federal agents charged her with one count of impersonating a U.S. government official and one count of misuse of an official pass or permit. She could have been sentenced to a maximum eight years in prison.
Instead, Yee agreed to 18 months of court supervision under the pretrial-diversion agreement. In interviews shortly after her arrest, Yee insisted she never claimed to be a U.S. ambassador, but that she represented Grenada. She showed reporters documents linking her to President Ronald Reagan's White House, the governments of Guam and Grenada, the Philippines and former V.I. Senate President Lorraine Berry.
Yee was introduced as "Ambassador-at-Large Yee" at the many government functions she attended, and Berry said she assumed the title was legitimate. Berry said she only knew Yee in a professional capacity, but that the two attended many fund raisers and other government functions together.
"She used to be there with governors," Berry said. "She used to be there at swearing-in ceremonies …. That's how I got to meet her, when they introduced her."
Yee said prosecutors were persecuting her and that they were jealous of her success.
Diplomatic Security agents began investigating Yee in 1996 for possible passport fraud, and later expanded the investigation to include agents from the Offices of Inspector General of both the Departments of State and Homeland Security, Jenkins said.
Investigations by the V.I. Source turned up other occasions in which Yee allegedly posed as an ambassador.
In 1994, while allegedly posing as a Chinese ambassador, she rode in the motorcade of Little Rock, Ark., Mayor Jim Dailey. He was photographed giving Yee a souvenir T-shirt, according to the Indianapolis Star newspaper. There are other, similar stories from Indiana, Georgia and Washington, D.C.
Elena Lin Yee was once Elena Yee Lutz, a Los Angeles filmmaker and widow of Lilly heir Herbert Barr Lutz, the Star reported. Lutz inherited millions after the death of his wife Evelyn Lilly Lutz, daughter of Lilly Pharmaceutical founder Elli Lilly. Yee and Lutz are said to have met at a V.I. film festival in 1979. Legal battles for the cash after Lutz's 1982 death, however, left Yee with about $1 million in property and stock.
Yee has allegedly fallen short on millions of dollars in promised gifts to private and government institutions worldwide.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.