BANGOR, Maine — A Brazilian woman found hiding in the trunk of a Canadian woman’s car at the Madawaska border crossing pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court to a federal misdemeanor and was sentenced to 12 days in jail, or time served.
Daniela Cristine Tonel-Alves, 28, of Ipathinga, Minas Gerais, Brazil, and Framingham, Mass., was charged with avoidance of examination and inspection. She was arrested with Lynne Boutot, 43, of Saint Basil, New Brunswick, on Jan. 8.
She faced a maximum of six months in prison.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk rejected a recommendation by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Moore that Tonel-Alves be sentenced to six months of probation in addition to the time she has served. The judge said she saw no need for probation, especially when it was unclear whether the defendant would be released.
Tonel-Alves moved to the United States from Brazil with her parents when she was 8 years old, according to court documents. She grew up in Framingham, Mass., and graduated from the high school there in 2000.
She is married to a Brazilian citizen and has two children, ages 4 and 8, who are U.S. citizens, according to court documents. Tonel-Alves and her husband have no documentation that would allow her to stay in the United States, her attorney, Joseph Bethony of Bangor, told Kravchuk on Thursday.
The couple last year applied for a change in their immigration status, which was denied. Their appeal is scheduled to be heard in March.
Court documents do not state when Tonel-Alves returned to Brazil, but she arrived in Canada from Brazil around Christmas.
Boutot, who is being held without bail, was introduced by her brother, who has not been charged in the United States, to the Brazilian woman around Christmas, according to court documents. Boutot allegedly told border patrol officers when she was arrested that she originally refused to transport Tonel-Alves across the border. In early January, according to court documents, Boutot changed her mind when offered $1,500 to bring the woman to the United States.
Boutot told officers that she was crossing the border to buy gasoline. Boutot was referred for a secondary inspection, and when the trunk was opened, Tonel-Alves was discovered inside. After being interviewed, the two were arrested, according to court documents.
If convicted, Boutot faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. She also could be barred from re-entering the United States.