Smuggler's Inn owner accused of smuggling must erect giant warning sign: judge
Published Thursday, April 25, 2019 10:39AM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 25, 2019 4:42PM PDT
The owner of a popular bed-and-breakfast on the U.S.-Canada border has been granted bail, with extensive conditions.
Robert Boule, the longtime owner of the Smuggler's Inn in Blaine, Wash., has been accused of helping to smuggle illegal migrants across the border into Canada.
Boule learned he'd be released from custody in a Surrey courtroom Thursday morning, where a judge outlined the conditions of his release.
He's required to put forward a $15,000 cash deposit, and must reside at the inn unless given permission to move elsewhere.
He must cancel all his existing phone numbers and current email addresses, and once he sets up new ones, he will be required to provide his bail supervisor with call logs and text messages once a month, along with the passwords to his accounts.
Judge Robert Hamilton also made an unusual request: before Boule can return home to the U.S., he’s required to erect a four-by-eight foot sign on his property.
The lighted sign must be located within 10 feet of the border, and must say on both sides, "Warning: It is illegal to enter Canada directly from the Smuggler's Inn property."
The warning will also have to be posted on any website set up for the Inn.
Blaine resident and longtime friend Len Saunders, who’s known Boule for almost 20 years, expressed shock over the charges, and says he believes the Canadian government is scapegoating him.
"(Boule) does have some people who stay at his inn who disappear," Saunders told CTV News Vancouver. "It’s not up to him to decide where people go."
Boule will be required to send a time-stamped photo of the warning sign to his bail supervisor once a week to show it's still standing.
The judge stopped short of requiring Boule to build a fence or gate, or to change the Inn’s curious name.
When asked if he thought the court-ordered sign would actually stop people from crossing, Saunders responded, "Absolutely not.
"I think people are going to laugh at it."
As part of his bail conditions, Boule must make copies of the official government ID of all guests, and must delete all phone numbers on online ads for the inn.
He is prohibited from allowing anyone on the property who has indicated any interest in entering Canada illegally.
Boule faces 21 charges under the Immigration Act, including attempts to "organize, induce, aid, abet" at least seven people in crossing the border into B.C.
The alleged offences date from May 2018 to March 2019. An indictment shows Boule was already on bail at the time of the alleged crimes, and facing nine additional counts of smuggling.
None of the charges from either indictment have been proven in court. Boule is due back in court on May 6.