Booths sentenced to time served

Agassiz couple spent 109 days in North Dakota jail for bulk cash smuggling

An Agassiz couple caught with thousands of dollars stashed in their motorhome at a North Dakota border crossing has been sentenced to time served.

Jonna and Robert Booth were stopped at the border while leaving Manitoba in October, and it was revealed through investigations that $73,000 CND in cash was hidden in a compartment in their motorhome. Since they had both claimed to United States Customs that they were not carrying more than the allowable $10,000, they were charged with bulk cash smuggling and held in custody.

On Jan. 17, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland sentenced each of the Booths to time already served, at 109 days. They also had to forfeit the cash seized at the border, two iPhones and their motorhome. They also have to pay a $100 fine.

A sentencing memorandum details the lifestyle of Jonna Booth particularly, noting that she has no criminal record and is a law-abiding citizen.

“She has never been incarcerated,” the memorandum reads. “She has had several months to reflect on her actions and on where she went wrong.”

The judge ruled that while she did know that money was gained illegally, she did not know how much money there was or where it was in the RV, making her role in the offense “minimal.”

The memorandum also outlines how Booth was under much distress in custody. She suffers from migraines and severe depression. She was advised by her psychiatrist to keep a diary to deal with suppressed emotions. This diary was read by numerous people in the investigation, and she was further distressed to learn this.

“In the first few days of custody, Jonna suffered physically, emotionally, and mentally, as she was unable to take her medications without her prescription,” the memorandum reads.

It adds that upon returning to Canada, Booth, 48, should be allowed to pursue continuing her education and all career opportunities. When stopped at the border initially, border officials had both Booths fill out a declaration form, when only one person is legally required to do so. Had the proper procedure been followed, she would have played an even more minimal role, the memorandum states.

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