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U.S. boat owner fined for failing to declare loaded handguns

Sep 22 2012

A Washington state charter boat owner who failed to declare three loaded handguns after sailing into Pender Island's Bedwell Harbour has been given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay an $8,000 victim fine surcharge.

Port Angeles resident Fred Rodolf, 73, was arrested May 3, 2011, after arriving on the 22.5-metre Lu-lu Belle on his way to Alaska, where he runs a charter business for about six months of the year.

When asked by a Canada Border Services officer if he had any weapons onboard, Rodolf said he had a shotgun. Officers boarded the vessel and noticed a box of .38 shells beside a box of shotgun shells.

At first, Rodolf denied there were any other weapons onboard, but soon admitted to having three loaded handguns, which were seized. Rodolf was fined $1,000 per handgun and arrested. He spent two nights in jail, resuming his journey after posting $2,000 cash bail.

On Friday, Rodolf pleaded guilty to breach of the Customs Act by making a false statement and to three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. The Crown proceeded summarily on these charges.

Victoria provincial court Judge Ernie Quantz noted that if the Crown had proceeded by indictment, the minimum sentence on the firearms matters would have been three years in custody.

"Mr. Rodolf acknowledges his wrong doing, and I don't have a sense he has the attitude that Canadians laws are for Canadians, and he's not bound by them," Quantz said. "It was an unfortunate decision he made."

Morino said his client understood he was not allowed to bring handguns into Canada without the proper permits to transport them, but his boat had been in dry dock and he was in a rush to leave Port Angeles.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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