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Men sentenced to probation for lying to border patrol agents near Gouverneur

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Two Illinois men were sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court, Utica, to federal probation for lying to U.S. Border Patrol agents about why they were in the north country in June 2011.

Marcin Pycz, age not available, and Ireneusz Szawkalo, 37, both of Chicago, also were sentenced to a few days’ time served for July 31 guilty pleas to making a false statement to a federal agent.

The men were in a vehicle halted by border agents June 6, 2011, at a checkpoint on Route 11 in the town of Rossie. The men told agents they were sightseeing, but further investigation revealed that a third person in the vehicle was an illegal alien from Poland.

Mr. Szawkalo is a U.S. citizen, while Mr. Pycz is a legal U.S. resident holding a green card. The third man, Kamil Podgorksi, told agents that he was Australian and that he had been in the country for a few days but had forgotten his passport. Agents later discovered that while Mr. Podgorski had legally emigrated from Poland to Australia, he had entered the United States illegally. He later pleaded guilty to illegal entry, admitting that he had come into the country by boat across the St. Lawrence River, and was sentenced to a week’s time served.

Mr. Pycz and Mr. Szawkalo also admitted that they were hired to drive Mr. Podgorski from Hogansburg to Chicago for $2,000. According to court documents, Mr. Szawkalo arranged the trip and communicated with the person who hired him. Upon arrival in Watertown from Chicago, the pair received instructions to a Hogansburg restaurant, where they met Mr. Podgorksi. It was as they were starting back to Chicago that they encountered the routine border checkpoint.

Mr. Pycz also may face deportation proceedings for being convicted of the crime, according to court documents.

A fourth man, Thomas P. Johnson Jr., pleaded guilty to bringing an alien into the country, admitting that he picked Mr. Podgorski up along the shore of the St. Lawrence River at St. Regis Village, Quebec, and drove him to the Hogansburg restaurant. As part of his plea, Mr. Johnson admitted he was paid to provide the ride. He is due to be sentenced Feb. 15.

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