Van Buren man known as ‘Border Guy’ gets 10 years for running cocaine from Texas to Canada

Posted Jan. 03, 2014, at 1:42 p.m.
Robert Rossignol of Van Buren leaves federal district court in Bangor after being arraigned on drug smuggling charges Friday, July 27, 2012.
Michael C. York | BDN
Robert Rossignol of Van Buren leaves federal district court in Bangor after being arraigned on drug smuggling charges Friday, July 27, 2012. Buy Photo

BANGOR, Maine — A Van Buren man known as “The Border Guy” was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court to 10 years in prison for his role in a drug-running scheme that brought cocaine from Texas to Canada through Maine.

Robert Rossignol, 61, pleaded guilty in March to charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and failure to report the importation of $10,000 or more and aiding and abetting the same.

Five kilograms of cocaine is equal to about 11 pounds of the drug. Based on testimony, more than three times that amount was purchased in Houston and distributed in New Brunswick.

In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock also sentenced Rossignol to five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $22,700 fine, the least amount of money the judge calculated Rossignol most likely made illegally.

Rossignol also was ordered to forfeit the nearly $300,000 authorities seized 18 months ago and his silver 2006 Lincoln Mark LT.

He had been held without bail since entering his guilty plea March 27.

“The Border Guy” was arrested July 1, 2012, after two Canadian men — Matthieu LeBlanc, 31, of Shediac, New Brunswick, and Chad Hallett, 31, of Dieppe, New Brunswick — were arrested days earlier. The Canadians were stopped 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, 2012, according to court documents.

LeBlanc was sentenced last month to eight years and eight months in federal prison. Hallett is serving a four-year sentence on the same charge at the Moshannon Valley Correctional Institution in Philipsburg, Pa., according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator website. Neither man was eligible for supervised release because they are Canadian not American citizens.

Two other men, Victor “Vic” Charles, 33, of Bacliff, Texas, and Apolinar “Polo” Ortiz-Islas, 43, of Houston, were convicted of being part of the cocaine-smuggling scheme.

Charles was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court to 10 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Ortiz-Islas is awaiting sentencing.

Rossignol was paid to drive the money and the cocaine across the border, the Canadians testified at Ortiz-Islas’ trial. Hallett would meet Rossignol on either side of the border to pick up either the money or the cocaine, according to testimony. Hallett then drove the money to Texas and the cocaine back to Maine.

Rossignol and the Texans were charged after Hallett was seen by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement receiving nearly $300,000 in cash in a box from Rossignol in a Houlton parking lot on June 27, 2012, according to court documents.

A short time later, Hallett was stopped for speeding by Maine State Police, and a K-9 unit discovered $298,585 inside a box in the trunk, according to court documents. Hallett and LeBlanc agreed to cooperate with law enforcement and helped set up the deal that led police to Charles and Ortiz Islas.

Each man faced a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life because of the amount of cocaine alleged to have been involved in the conspiracy, as well as a fine of up to $1 million. LeBlanc, Hallett and Charles were given consideration for their cooperation with authorities at their sentencings. Rossignol did not cooperate with authorities, Woodcock said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey recommended Rossignol be imprisoned for 12½ years. Defense attorney Marvin Glazier of Bangor urged Woodcock to impose a seven-year sentence, below the federal sentencing guideline range of between 11 years and three months and 14 years.

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