BANGOR, Maine — A New Brunswick woman arrested in January after a Brazilian alien was found in her trunk at a Madawaska border crossing pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal immigration violation.
Lynne Boutot, 43, of St. Basil, New Brunswick, pleaded guilty to bringing an illegal alien into the United States during an appearance before Chief Judge John Woodcock Jr. in U.S. District Court in Bangor, U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced Thursday in a news release.
Woodcock accepted the plea. Boutot, who will be sentenced at a later date, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the offence. She also could be barred from re-entering the United States.
Boutot will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service until her sentencing, Delahanty said.
Court records show that in January, Boutot agreed to transport 28-year-old Daniela Cristine Tonel-Alves of Ipathinga, Minas Gerais, Brazil, and Framingham, Mass., into the United States.
Tonel-Alves was charged with avoidance of examination and inspection in connection with the incident, according to federal court documents and published reports.
Federal prosecutors said Boutot picked the woman up in New Brunswick with the intent of driving her to a restaurant in Madawaska. Minutes before reaching the U.S. border, Boutot had Tonel-Alves get into the trunk of her vehicle.
When Boutot got to the Madawaska border crossing, she presented her passport and told the officer she was traveling to Madawaska to buy gasoline and she had nothing she needed to declare. After Boutot was selected for secondary inspection, the Brazilian woman was discovered when an inspector opened the trunk.
Both women made initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Bangor in January. At that time, U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk ordered them to be detained temporarily.
According to court documents, Tonel-Alves moved to the United States from Brazil with her parents when she was 8 years old. She grew up in Framingham, Mass., and graduated from the high school there in 2000.
She is married to a Brazilian citizen and has two children, ages 4 and 8, who are U.S. citizens, according to court documents. Tonel-Alves has no documentation that would allow her to stay in the United States. The woman last year applied for a change in her immigration status, which was denied.
A pending appeal was scheduled for this month in Immigration Court in Boston. It was not immediately clear Thursday if that hearing has taken place.
Court documents do not state when Tonel-Alves returned to Brazil, but she arrived in Canada from Brazil around Christmas.
Boutot was introduced to the Brazilian woman around Christmas by Boutot’s brother, who has not been charged in the United States, according to court documents.
Boutot allegedly told border patrol officers that she originally refused to transport Tonel-Alves across the border. According to court documents, Boutot changed her mind when offered $1,500 to bring the woman to the United States.
If convicted, Tonel-Alves faces up to six months in prison. In addition, she could be deported to Brazil and forbidden from re-entering the country.
The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and
Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.