Canadian folk singers charged with illegal entry across Calais border

Posted July 07, 2011, at 1:18 p.m.
Last modified July 07, 2011, at 9:46 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — How much of her North American tour Canadian folk singer Michelle Joly will miss is up to a federal judge.

Michelle Marie Bahrynowski, whose professional moniker is Michelle Joly, and her backup singer Carrie Anne Sadler, both of Red Deer, Alberta, were arrested Tuesday morning at the Milltown border crossing in Calais after they allegedly lied to Customs and Border Protection agents about why they were entering the country.

Bahrynowski, 30, and Sadler, 32, were charged with entry into the United States by false representation. The duo are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuck for a bail hearing Friday morning in federal court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone has asked that the two be held without bail until their case is concluded.

The performers came to the attention of authorities about 2 a.m. Tuesday when they attempted to enter Maine at the Ferry Point border crossing in Calais, according to the affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Board patrol agents turned Bahrynowski and Sadler back because they did not have an H visa, as a needed worker, or a P visa, as a performer.

They also had more than 400 CDs along with T-shirts, tote bags and other merchandise, according to the affidavit. Agents told the women they could not import CDs for sale in the U.S. without declaring the items through a customs broker. Both were allowed to leave the border crossing station for Canada without being charged.

About 30 hours later, Bahrynowski and Sadler tried to enter the U.S. at the Milltown border crossing in Calais, according to the affidavit. There, the women told agents they were entering the U.S. not to work but to visit friends.

In searching Bahrynowski’s cellphone, agents discovered that the singer had posted a message to her Facebook page asking for friends in the U.S. to say she was coming to visit them, according to the affidavit. The Customs and Border Protection office in Calais received a fax from a Taunton, Mass., man claiming that Bahrynowski was coming to visit him and another fax from an Albany, N.Y., man who said she was scheduled to sing at his pub but would not be paid for her performance.

In searching the van, agents found more than 200 CDs hidden in recesses in the vehicle’s interior, the affidavit said.

Bahrynowski’s website states that she has been on tour since the release of her first album on June 1. Her U.S. dates are not listed, but she allegedly told border patrol agents that she was scheduled to work in New York, Illinois and Minnesota. The singer’s last performance in Canada was scheduled for June 29 at the Rose and Thistle Pub in St. John’s, Newfoundland, according to information on her website. Her next performance is scheduled for July 19 at the Plaza in Kenora, Ontario.

If convicted, the women face up to six months in federal prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

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