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Charges to be Dismissed Against Buddhist Nun

By DNAinfo Staff on July 15, 2011 6:49am  | Updated on July 15, 2011 7:53am

MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — Charges against a Buddhist nun arrested for handing out prayer beads on Canal Street are expected to be dismissed early next week, her attorney said Thursday.

Baojing Li was accused of selling jewelry without a vendor's license.

She  claims she was raising money to rebuild her Atlanta-area temple that was destroyed in a fire on March 26.

She had raised $10,000 by June through support from New York's large Chinese community. She said she was handing out 50-cent Chinese beads to passers-by, some of which gave donations.

But police saw Li, 48, perched on a stool at the corner of Canal and Mott Streets on June 2 holding a satchel of the beads and arrested her for selling "more than 20 pieces [of] costume jewelry."

She was handcuffed and taken to a Midtown precinct, where she was held  for hours before being charged with acting an unlicensed vendor and released.

Prosecutors said that they will effectively dismiss the charges when she appears in Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday, her lawyer Robert Brown said Thursday.

He said the District Attorney's office agreed to permanently seal the case after six months of no rearrests.

Brown had called her arrest a matter of cultural insensitivity on the part of police, who "would not have arrested a Catholic nun in a habit giving out rosary beads."

He said the dismissal offer was "extremely fair" treatment by the Manhattan DA's office.

"It's an extremely good outcome. We're very happy with it," Brown said.

Last week Li was offered a guilty plea to disorderly conduct which would require a day of community service, but she refused to admit she'd done anything wrong.

The case had been adjourned to July 18 so prosecutors could continue to investigate.

The DA's office declined to comment in advance of next week's scheduled appearance.