April 19, 2018
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Immigration officials called to Ellsworth traffic stop; Gouldsboro man charged

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Gouldsboro man is facing charges after police detained him and two suspected illegal immigrants Sunday during a local traffic stop.

Officer Chris Smith said Monday that he stopped the vehicle because he noticed a suspicious inspection sticker on the windshield.

Smith said he summoned the driver, John Benardis, 62, of Gouldsboro, on charges of illegal attachment of registration plates and using a fictitious inspection sticker. The fake sticker, he said, actually was a photograph of a valid inspection sticker that Bernardis allegedly had taped up in his windshield.

Smith said he stopped the vehicle around 4 p.m. Sunday because he noticed the color of the inspection sticker was “off.” The car ended up being towed, the officer said.

Smith said that traveling with Benardis were two Hispanic men that Benardis apparently supervised on the job somewhere in Massachusetts. Smith said he did not know what kind of jobs the men had in Massachusetts or where in Massachusetts the men had traveled from.

“When asked for identification, they had suspicious cards,” the officer said of the two passengers, who spoke no English.

Smith said Benardis had brought the men to Maine to do work on his house.

Ellsworth police contacted federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who came to Ellsworth and determined that the men did not have proper identification, Smith said. He did not release the names of the two passengers because the men were not arrested or charged with immigration offenses, he said. The men were allowed to continue on their way, but charges may be pending, Smith said.

ICE officials did not immediately return a message left late Monday afternoon at the agency’s regional office in Newark, N.J.

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