Judge declares conditional discharge in border-crossing case

A trial and sentencing was held for Fort McMurray man who didn't declare firearms parts at U.S. border.

PENTICTON—Two years ago, Jake Cross and his wife were crossing the Canada-U.S. border in Osoyoos on their way home from a road trip to Arizona. Cross, an avid collector of World War firearms and memorabilia, told the officers he did not have firearms or ammunition in his motorhome.

A few months earlier, Cross’s name was put on a lookout list at the border control office after he mailed packages containing firearms pieces. Because of this listing, officers asked to further inspect Cross’s motor home. A detector dog was brought on board, and after some sniffing, officers found packages containing firearm parts hidden in cupboards and behind TV sets, among other places.

After a year of investigations, Cross was charged with attempting to illegally bring firearms into Canada without a permit. He pleaded guilty to illegally importing goods without a permit.

Now, two years after the offense, he has been sentenced to a conditional discharge in Penticton Provincial Court today.

“I’m very sorry this happened. It won’t happen again,” said Cross, 71, a retired business owner of a contracting company in Fort McMurray, Alta.

Prosecutor Nick Lerfold told Judge Gregory Koturbash he had his own doubts about the case.

“I can’t say there was intention to (conceal the items),” but Cross did attempt to misinform border patrol.

Koturbash said he was “hard-pressed” to believe Cross didn’t understand the import-export regulations and licensing.

“One would need to be sleeping under a rock not to realize how heavily regulated firearms are in this country,” he said.

Cross sent some firearm parts to his children in Canada from a gunshop in Arizona, but the gun shop fills out the permit, defense counsel Joel Whysall said.

Cross does have a permit for these firearms, and he owned several of the same models prior to his border crossing mishap. The problem is he doesn’t have a licence to transport the items across the border.

Whysall said the parts found at the border totalled between $200 and $300.

“There’s no benefit here,” Whysall said. "He wasn’t trying to achieve anything."

He is not as “blameworthy” as a commercial exporter/importer, he said. The parts Cross was caught trying to cross with wouldn't make a complete rifle, Koturbash said. The pieces were for the completion of models for which Cross has permits.

Koturbash ordered a conditional discharge, meaning Cross will have a clean record as long as he follows the conditions of his 12-month probation sentence. The conditions were that Cross remain on good behaviour and keep the peace.

“I trust that we won’t see you back here again,” Koturbash said.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Meaghan Archer at marcher@infotelnews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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