Disagree with your story

To the Editor:

Regarding an article in the Oct. 15, 2012 edition of The Caledonian-Record on page A8 by staff writer Robin Smith under "Newport Center" entitled: Man Sentenced in Border Cash Case with the sub-heading: "Brought Lots of Cash Into U.S. Without Reporting It." I wish to strongly disagree and take exception to the tenor and accuracy of Ms. Smith's story.

As a recently retired dairy farmer of nearly 40 years my family and I have done business with Mr. Jean Rondeau as a supplier of Canadian hay for more than 30 years. I am also personally familiar with the dramatic changes in border crossing between Canada and the U.S. since the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

I strongly reject and resent the inference in Ms. Smith's article saying that Mr. Rondeau was: "...trying to sneak more than $10,000 in cash into the U.S. from Canada without reporting it..." (emphasis added).

Anyone who regularly crosses the border between Canada and the U.S. knows that on any given day there can be hours of delay, especially when coming back into the U.S. The delay and inspections now in place by Homeland Security are most often very tedious and time-consuming. Mr. Rondeau crosses at Vermont border crossings several times per week with his loads of hay. Mr. Rondeau is self-employed and has no one else working for him. On this particular day he was in his pickup truck going after parts for his tractor. His elderly mother (nearly 88 years of age) was with him to do some shopping in Canada where she occasionally shops. By the time Mr. Rondeau and his mother arrived back at the border it was later than he had planned. He needed to get his elderly mother home and he also needed to get to work on his truck to prepare for the next day's work. In a momentary lapse of his otherwise good judgment he opted to not declare the cash money from his business knowing that if he did mention the cash they would likely be kept waiting for hours to make it through customs.

When he was inspected, the border agents discovered the extra cash money. Mr. Rondeau immediately confessed and explained the situation and legitimately accounted for all the cash money found in the truck, glove compartment and his mother's purse.

We realize the border agents, customs officers and Homeland Security officers are all doing the jobs they were hired to do. However, there are instances of a lapse of good judgment due to extenuating circumstances by exemplary business people who cross the border regularly that should never be treated and referred to in the same way as persons with criminal intent.

Mr. Rondeau is of sterling moral character in whom I have complete trust and confidence. I hope that Ms. Smith will immediately correct the inaccuracies in her story to explain to CR readers this was not of a criminal nature or intent but rather a lapse in good judgment on the part of Mr. Rondeau that resulted in none of the outcomes that our Border Agents are sworn to protect us from.

Although U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin commends the Homeland Security Investigations Officials and U.S. Border Patrol agents for their work I hope and pray that their zeal in attacking Mr. Rondeau's character will be replaced by experience, knowledge and understanding of the professional business people like Mr. Rondeau with whom they come in contact with everyday at our border crossings.

Alice Allen

Wells River, Vt.

Editor's note: The newspaper report was accurate. Reporter Robin Smith reported on a criminal act at the border to which defendant Jean Rondeau pleaded guilty.


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