Yu Wen (余文), a former secretary to President Ma Ying-jeou during his time as Taipei mayor, was released on parole yesterday after serving nine months in jail.
Wu was found guilty of graft and sentenced to 14 months for using fraudulent receipts to claim reimbursements from Ma’s special mayoral allowance fund.
Yu was a city government staffer when Ma was accused of misusing his special allowance during his eight-year tenure as mayor.
The case began more than two years ago when the Special Investigation Panel of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors’ Office indicted Ma and Yu on charges of corruption.
Prosecutors alleged that Ma had embezzled more than NT$12 million (US$400,000) from the mayoral fund with Yu’s help.
Prosecutors discovered that Ma had donated more than NT$11 million to charities during the same period.
Yu admitted to forging receipts to apply for funds for Ma.
The Taipei District Court handed down the first verdict on Aug. 14, 2007.
Ma was found not guilty of corruption. Yu, however, was sentenced to 14 months, which was later reduced to 12 months by the Taiwan High Court. The guilty verdict and jail sentence were upheld by the Supreme Court.
Yu was released early because of good behavior. He left Taipei Prison at about 10:30am, where he was immediately approached by reporters.
Asked whether he felt Ma should have pardoned him, he said: “I made the mistakes myself, so I should take responsibility.”
Yu told reporters he was thankful for the “many friends and family” who had supported him, but made no mention of the president.
He said he did not feel he had been wronged by the judicial system, because he had made mistakes in applying for the reimbursements for Ma’s expenses from the fund.
Yu denied corruption, saying, “I did not take one cent.”
When asked whether he felt he had been used as a scapegoat, Yu declined to respond, but said he would face his future with courage.
Yu said it would be best if he could find a job, but that no one at the Presidential Office had contacted him about the matter.
Before beginning his job hunt, Yu said he would spend some time with his family and enjoy his long-awaited freedom, adding that he had never truly appreciated his freedom until he lost it.
A tearful Yu said he wanted to apologize to his parents for the distress he had caused them and to thank his wife for taking care of their two children while he was away.
Yu said he had received much encouragement from many people during his imprisonment, but did not specify whether Ma had was one of them.
In accordance with tradition, Yu had a haircut and put on new clothes and shoes before returning to his hometown of Taichung.
When asked whether Ma would help Yu find a job, Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) yesterday said the office had been in contact with Yu’s family and would be happy to assist Yu in any way should he require any assistance.
Wang said the Presidential Office regretted that Yu had not received a probationary sentence. Yu should have been entitled to it because it was his first criminal offense and “just a receipt problem,” Wang said.
Wang declined to comment on why Ma had not pardoned Yu, saying that Ma did not make anything difficult for him.