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November 23, 2004 
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U.S. bounty hunters charged
By ANDREW SEYMOUR, Ottawa Sun


Two U.S. bounty hunters who allegedly tried to smuggle an Eganville man across the border back to the U.S. a week ago have been charged by American authorities. Bail bondsmen Reginald Bailey and Robert Carden Roberts are each facing charges of trying to smuggle an illegal alien into the United States and for making "materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements," according to U.S. court documents obtained by the Sun yesterday.

It's alleged the bondsmen handcuffed 60-year-old Kenneth Weckwerth after picking him up at his girlfriend's residence on Nov. 14 in Golden Lake, 130 km west of Ottawa.

A U.S. affidavit says Weckwerth was taken to the Rainbow Bridge crossing in Niagara Falls, where a U.S. border agent was told that all three men were U.S. citizens who had spent the past two days gambling at Casino Niagara.

But the bondsmen's claims unravelled when a border officer searched their van and discovered various pieces of identification, tucked inside a road map, indicating that Weckwerth was a Canadian citizen.

DRUG RAP

"They violated American law by trying to smuggle someone in and lie about it in doing so," said Marty Littlefield, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.

It's alleged Weckwerth skipped out on a $10,000 US bond after being charged with felony drug trafficking in Ohio.

Weckwerth is now being held by federal authorities in Buffalo as a material witness in the case against the bail bondsmen.

However, it's expected he'll be turned over tomorrow to New York state authorities, who will then contact Ohio authorities.

Even though he was taken from Ontario against his will, Weckwerth is not entitled to return to Canada to avoid U.S. prosecution on the drug charges, because he didn't resist entering the country.

"He entered the United States voluntarily," said Littlefield.

"It's my understanding the Department of Homeland Security will turn him over into state custody."

Ontario provincial police could also lay charges against the bondsmen and have been in contact with U.S. authorities.

Brian Weckwerth said he hasn't been in contact with his brother since his arrest and only learned through police that Ken had been taken.

BROTHER'S WORRIED

Brian Weckwerth, who is a councillor for Bonnechere Valley Twp., said he's worried for his brother and hopes the men who took him are prosecuted.

"These guys just can't come up here and take people out of Canada without the proper paperwork," he said. "Who do they think they are?"

Brian said Ken is not close with his family, adding his brother had been living in the U.S. for more than 10 years before returning to the Eganville area this summer.

The family was not aware he was wanted in the U.S.

andrew.seymour@ott.sunpub.com



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