Border bluff proves costly

Okanagan couple fined close to $40,000 for providing fraudulent motorhome receipt to Osoyoos border gurard

Making a false statement to an Osoyoos border guard has cost an Okanagan couple upwards of $40,000.

Robert and Rose Wilson were charged under the Canadian Customs Act for making false or deceptive statements and attempting to evade duties under the act when attempting to return back to Canada on May 17, 2011. They appeared in Penticton provincial court on Monday in front of Judge Meg Shaw.

The couple told a Canadian border guard they had brought a $40,000 trade-in vehicle into the United States and purchased the motorhome they were driving back into Canada. The husband then told the border guard the motorhome was purchased for $90,000 and presented a bill of sale. Federal crown Nick Lerford told the court some of the responses offered by the husband prompted officers to do a secondary inspection. Lerford said a second bill of sale for approximately $158,000 was recovered inside the motorhome sitting on a table in a folder.

“This was a premeditated event,” said Lerford. “The accused was given more than one occasion to report the value of goods but continued to try and convince the border guard the value was not what it was.”

Defence counsel Richard Hewson argued the elderly couple made a “terribly unsophisticated decision and had no idea of the risk they were taking.”

Hewson said the couple had more than $39,000 of fines imposed on them by border services and paid them four days after they were stopped at the border.

“If there was any planning, it was of the worst kind,” said Hewson, arguing if they were trying to be truly deceptive they could have mailed the receipt back to Canada instead of trying to bring it across with them.

The defence successfully argued the point that the husband was the one mainly answering the border guard questions, which led to the charges of false statements being discharged on the wife and evading duties stayed.

“These are good people that did something wrong and something they regret,” said Hewson.

The husband received a conditional discharge with a six month probation for making deceptive statements. The charge of evading duties was also stayed on the husband.