Tonin Ndoja, 50, a Canadian trucker, was spared further federal custody Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara on his guilty plea to making a false statement to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer while attempting to smuggle an Albanian couple into this country across the Peace Bridge last Nov. 12.
Arcara sentenced him to time-served and released him from custody. Originally charged with bringing in aliens in exchange for financial gain, Ndoja had been facing a prison term of up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine on that charge.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott S. Allen Jr. said Ndoja hid the couple on the tractor trailer carrying rolled steel that he was hauling that day. But during a secondary inspection Bardok Tusha, 30, and his wife, Kleda Tusha, 20, were found hiding inside the rig’s cab under a blanket. On Nov. 13 the Tushas pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy to a misdemeanor charge of illegal entry and were sentenced to time-served and sent back to Canada.