Canadian singers sentenced to time served for lying at border

Posted July 08, 2011, at 12:22 p.m.
Last modified July 08, 2011, at 5:57 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A federal judge Friday sentenced a Canadian folk singer and her backup vocalist to time served and warned them not to return to the United States to perform without the proper visas.

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 lied to Customs and Border Protection agents about why they were entering the country.

Bahrynowski, 30, and Sadler, 32, were sentenced to three days in jail after pleading guilty in federal court on Friday to entry into the United States by false representation. In addition, Sadler pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Bahrynowski’s lies to agents at the border.

“Coming to court in shackles should have taught you a lesson,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk told the pair. “Don’t come back to this county without the proper visas.”

They will be barred from re-entering the country for five years, the judge said.

The pair faced up to six months in federal prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Both women were to be returned to the border Friday where Bahrynowski’s van was being held.

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 of Barhrynowski’s CDs along with four T-shirts, three tank tops, two tote bags, eight pens and a key chain promoting her album. 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.

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