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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Importer fined $3,000 for failing to declare pickup

Stating that ignorance of the law was no excuse, Grand Falls provincial court judge Paul Duffie fined Dwight A. Linton $3,000 on March 17 after the Perth-Andover business owner pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to declare imported goods in his possession, to wit: a 2006 Ford F-350 pickup truck on Oct. 19, 2008 near Carlingford.

Following 51-year-old Linton's guilty plea, Crown prosecutor David Hitchcock withdrew three other charges which had been laid in the case.

"On Oct. 19, 2008, at 6 p.m., Linton arrived at the Perth-Andover Customs port and made a declaration that he had left Canada the previous Friday. He declared $302 in goods which included two bottles of wine," stated Hitchcock.

"The primary officer could not read the license plate. Linton told him that it was a temporary one and that he had had the vehicle when he left Canada. The officer wrote down Province of New Brunswick on the declaration slip. A secondary exam was done to verify the declaration," he added.

Customs officers discovered that Linton had failed to declare the pickup.

"He had been at a car show while out of the country. The pickup had a temporary tag from Maryland. Linton stated he didn't have all the paperwork," Hitchcock said.

"He is a frequent traveller into the United States, at least once a month. He was offered an opportunity to retain counsel, which he did. He provided a bill of sale and an insurance card. He said he had paid the pickup on Oct. 17 with a wire transfer. He declined to pay the term of release. On Oct. 20, he called the Customs superintendent and said he had travelled to Bangor to pick up the vehicle. He was advised that the term of release amounted to $8,776.62," stated Hitchcock. "The duty value avoided was $2,903.41. He said he did not know import requirements however on Nov. 23, 2007, he imported a vehicle from the United States. He had travelled from Montreal and flew to Cincinnati where he was picked up by employees from a Maryland dealership in Baltimore. The vehicle was paid for on Oct. 9 by wire transfer," he added.

The Crown recommended that a $5,800 fine be imposed by the court.

Linton's defence lawyer Brent Dickinson told the court that his client did have a vehicle imported in 2007 but that his brother-in-law had taken care of the paperwork.

"He is self-employed and owns a business in Perth-Andover. He had applied for an export llicense the day before this happened and was told by U.S. Customs officials that it would take 72 hours," Dickinson said.

"There was no duty for this vehicle. It is the same amount of HST he would be charged to register the vehicle. Nothing was avoided," he added. "He's already been punished. He had to pay $8,776 to get the vehicle back. In the circumstances, he was negligent in this case. He has no prior conviction," said Dickinson who asked the court to consider a $500 fine instead of the amount asked for by the Crown.

"I do have a business in Perth-Andover and things are pretty tough right now," Linton told the court. "I was relying on what the dealer told me. I assumed the plate allowed me to travel back and forth," he added.

"Ignorance of the law is no excuse," stated Judge Duffie. "The fine has to reflect the value escaped. He is a first-time offender," he added prior to imposing the $3,000 fine and granting Linton until July 31 to pay it.
Source: Victoria Star




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