Ongoing saga for B.C. man in mistaken identity case
Published Tuesday, February 8, 2011 8:53PM PST
A B.C. man who was mistaken for a criminal by U.S. Customs and then cleared by border guards last week still can't clear his name with the American Department of Homeland Security.
Mark Gregory Goddard received a letter over the weekend that didn't mention that he had been cleared by both the RCMP and U.S. Customs using fingerprint evidence – and instead based their opinion on a dubious confession Goddard says he didn't sign.
"Mr. Goddard was found inadmissible into the United States…because he could not overcome all grounds of admissibility," says the letter, which is dated Jan. 28, 2010.
The letter says Goddard admitted to the crimes of a man with a similar age and name, but a different middle name.
"(Customs and Border Protection) officers…asked Mr. Goddard if he had committed these crimes. He responded by stating his name was Mark Alan Goddard and that he had been convicted of these cited crimes. A sworn statement was taken from Mr. Goddard where he acknowledged again that he had been convicted of numerous (crimes involving moral turpitude)."
The letter is in response to a complaint that the so-called confession was "fictitious." Goddard says it's troubling that border guards could come to one conclusion, while the official Homeland Security complaint process seemed to ignore basic facts in the case.
"To me it seems like the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing," he said.
Immigration lawyer Len Saunders says the letter is full of inaccuracies.
"I think it's quite troubling because you're getting different responses from different entities within Customs and Border protection." he said.
The case is also troubling because Canada and the United States are looking to further integrate the border, which is known as the longest undefended border in the entire world.
Goddard's ordeal began when he and his family tried to take off from Vancouver International Airport for a Hawaiian vacation in June. He was pulled aside and accused of being Mark Alan Goddard, and refused entry to the U.S.
Goddard received a letter from the RCMP stating he and Mark Alan Goddard were two separate people, but when he presented this to the border officers on a second visit, they ignored him and pointed to a four-page interrogation transcript.
When CTV News examined the interrogation transcript, it was full of basic errors, such as mis-stating Goddard's place of birth. It purports to be the transcript of an interview but contains ungrammatical sentences.
"Q: According to our records you were convicted of (1) POSS OF STOLEN PROPERTY (1-3) 18 MOS ON EACH CHG CONC in NEWMARKET ONT , OVER $200 PLUS PROBATION FOR 3 MO , (2) Be & Theft and Public Mischief, is that correct?" one question reads.
In the transcript, Goddard is quoted as saying one word, "Yes," to all questions.
On Friday, Goddard was fingerprinted again in Blaine, WA where customs guards cleared him.
But the guards never addressed the troubling "confession" – which now appears to haunt him again. The customs inspector who is named on the document, Antonio Cintron, no longer works at YVR, but is now employed at Salt Lake City International Airport.
Goddard was able to cross when he tried on Sunday, but he was still called into the customs office for further questioning.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward and Mi-Jung Lee