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2 BAIL BONDSMEN ADMIT ALIEN-SMUGGLING CHARGE

Two Ohio bail bondsmen face a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 after pleading guilty Tuesday to smuggling an alien into the country last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Robert C. Roberts, 61, of Solon, and Reginald Bailey, 43, of Cleveland, admitted they tried to smuggle a Canadian citizen, Kenneth Weckwerth, into the United States on Nov. 15 at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls.

At the border, Roberts and Bailey supplied proof of citizenship, while Weckwerth said he was a U.S. citizen who lost his identification at a Niagara Falls casino.

Investigators at the inspection station determined, however, that Weckwerth was initially abducted by Roberts and Bailey in Canada and was being brought back to Ohio on an outstanding warrant against Weckwerth for drug charges.

Roberts and Bailey were attempting to smuggle Weckwerth into the United States because of a bail bond which was posted on Weckwerth's behalf on the drug charges, authorities said.

Weckwerth was previously deported from the United States, and Roberts and Bailey pleaded guilty to smuggling an illegal alien not entitled to return to the country without the permission of the Department of Homeland Security, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin J. Littlefield.

Littlefield said the Canadian and U.S. governments are currently discussing the exact status of Weckwerth in the United States as it relates to the outstanding drug charges in Ohio.

Sentencing of Roberts and Bailey is scheduled for Feb. 22.

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