Guilty verdicts in Cornwall human trafficking trial

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A 72-year-old man was found guilty by Cornwall court on Friday afternoon of helping to organize a human smuggling operation.

Marek Albinowski of Etobicoke, Ont., Appeared by video conference to hear Justice Nathalie Champagne render her decision on charges of Conspiracy to Commit an Indictable Offense (Human Smuggling) and Possession of Proceeds of Crime in addition of $ 5,000.

“I find Mr. Albinowski guilty of both counts,” Champagne said as he read his opening statement.

Albinowski was indicted in October 2014, alongside co-accused Wladyslaw Pipien and local taxi driver Robert Fitzsimmons, whose charges were subsequently stayed. Pipien pleaded guilty and was sentenced to house arrest in 2020. The case, in its seventh year, had already been quashed for taking too long, but was reopened on appeal.

Albinowski has been accused of being a major organizer of a smuggling operation that brought Polish nationals, who came to Canada illegally, to the United States via Cornwall Island. Specifically, Albinowski was charged with communicating with customers, arranging pickups, making their payments and taking customers to a drop-off point near Cornwall where another person would take them to Cornwall Island. There, customers would be taken by boat to upstate New York and taken by drivers further into the United States.

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His trial took place in January and included more than two and a half weeks of testimony from police, border officials, arrested migrants who were smuggled in, Pipien and Fitzsimmons. Police seized four cell phones, more than $ 40,000 and documents, including receipts, after a search warrant was executed at his residence.

“Many confessions were also made… About incidents where people were transported to Cornwall Island… The confessions included surveillance footage, documents, receipts… videos, car rental data, photos of found objects… The evidence provided by (Canada Border Services Agency)… was largely undisputed… There was a significant amount of evidence that was not contested by the defense, ”said Champagne.

  1. The courthouse that houses the Ontario Superior Court and the Ontario Court of Justice in Cornwall, Ontario.

    Final arguments presented in the Cornwall human smuggling trial

  2. The courthouse that houses the Ontario Superior Court and the Ontario Court of Justice in Cornwall, Ontario.

    Full testimony in a Cornwall human trafficking case

  3. Not released

    Defense calls witness in Cornwall human trafficking trial

Several witnesses testified that Albinowski was involved in the operation from start to drop off clients at an ONroute in Bainsville. The photos placed Albinowski at the ONroute, along with Pipien, and entering the Fitzsimmons cabin which was used to transport customers to Cornwall Island. A person arrested in the United States said she was certain a photo of Pipien matched the person who helped organize the operation, and was pretty sure a photo of Albinowski was the second man that he saw take her on the ONroute.

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“The decision was very comprehensive, just as I expected for its honor… My client is obviously disappointed, but the evidence was quite convincing,” said defense lawyer John Hale.

Now, Hale has said he needs to focus on the sentencing hearing, which will take place on September 15. The conviction comes with a mandatory three-year sentence, although Albinowski would be eligible for parole after about a year.

“To some extent his hands are tied by a mandatory minimum sentence, but that’s another issue we’ll have to look at. Several mandatory minimum sentences have been struck down as unconstitutional, and that is something we will have to consider if we make a request to be struck down, ”Hale said.

Albinowski was required to check in with a local police station regularly, which he did, Hale said, and has not broken the law since his arrest in 2014. Hale said he hoped the presentence report will show that Albinowski’s character deserves to be taken into consideration. .

“He is 72 years old now, and the prospect of a three-year prison sentence, during the COVID era, is quite intimidating … But it’s a mandatory minimum sentence, so unless there is a challenge to the sentence, she cannot reduce it, “said Vigoureux.

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