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Van Buren man waives arraignment on cocaine-running, money charges

Michael C. York | BDN
Michael C. York | BDN
Robert Rossignol of Van Buren, Maine, leaves federal district court in Bangor, Maine, after being arraigned on drug smuggling charges Friday, July 27, 2012.
By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A Van Buren man charged in connection with the role he allegedly played in an international drug-running scheme did not appear Thursday in U.S. District Court, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk accepted a waiver of arraignment filed by his attorney.

Robert Rossignol was scheduled to be arraigned on a superseding indictment that charges him with conspiring with two Texas men to distribute cocaine, and one count of failing to report money he brought across international borders.

Attorney Terence Harrigan, who filled in for Rossignol’s regular defense attorney, Marvin Glazier, said his client was too ill to make it to the arraignment and waived his appearance, entering not guilty pleas on both counts.

Kravchuk said when the arraignment opened that she had hoped “to hear from Mr. Rossignol because we haven’t seen him for a while.”

After pleading not guilty to being part of a drug-running scheme to bring more than 20 pounds of cocaine to Canada through Maine on July 27, Rossignol, 59, was released on personal recognizance bail with strict conditions, which include his wearing an ankle bracelet and living under house arrest in Biddeford, far from his home in the St. John Valley.

Rossignol, who is also identified as “The Border Guy” and “Bob” in court documents, has not violated any conditions of bail, and a probation officer who visited him within the past 20 days reported that he “could barely walk at that point,” according to Mitchell Oswald of U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services.

Rossignol’s bail conditions will remain unchanged, Kravchuk said.

Two Texas men, Victor Charles, or “Vic,” and Apolinar Ortiz-Islas, or “Polo,” each are charged in the superseding indictment with conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. Ortiz-Islas is scheduled to be arraigned Friday and Charles on Oct. 30.

Rossignol was indicted July 19 by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 10 kilograms or more of cocaine. Ten kilograms of cocaine is equal to 22 pounds of the drug.

Two Canadian men — Matthieu LeBlanc, 29, of Shediac, New Brunswick and Chad Hallett, 29, of Dieppe, New Brunswick have been charged with being part of the drug conspiracy along with Rossignol.

The Canadians agreed to be held without bail pending the outcome of their cases.

Rossignol was arrested July 1. The two Canadian men were arrested days earlier after one of them was seen by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement receiving nearly $300,000 in cash hidden in a box from Rossignol in a Houlton parking lot on June 27, according to court documents.

ICE agent Kinsman Corthell followed Hallett’s car to a commercial parking lot, where he saw a man who turned out to be Rossignol remove a rectangular box from the backseat of his vehicle and hand it to Hallett, according to the affidavit. Hallett was seen putting the box in his trunk.

After Rossignol left the parking lot, Hallett and the woman headed south on Interstate 95, according to the affidavit. A short time later, Hallett was stopped by the Maine State Police for speeding. After Hallett showed signs of nervousness, a police dog named Dorsta was brought to the scene and hit on the trunk of the car, where the box with $298,585 was recovered, the affidavit said.

In a subsequent interview with ICE agents, Hallett said he intended to meet LeBlanc in Atlantic City, N.J., on June 28, according to the affidavit.

The two planned to spend time in the casinos changing the smaller-denomination bills into larger ones before heading to Houston to meet a cocaine dealer identified as “Vic” — Victor Charles, according to the superseding indictment.

BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.

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