News and Press Releases

Maksymilian Sapiejewski Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls on May 20, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, MAKSYMILIAN SAPIEJEWSKI, a 32-year-old citizen of Canada, pled guilty to interstate transportation of stolen property. Sentencing has been set for August 12, 2010. He is currently detained.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On March 25, 2010, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents were conducting Immigration status checks on the Eastbound Amtrak train in Havre. Agents encountered an individual who identified himself as Vladimir Putenko and presented an Illinois driver's license in the name of Putenko as identification.

An immigration records search identified Putenko as a Russian citizen illegally in the United States. Later, the man calling himself Putenko admitted his true identity MAKSYMILIAN SAPIEJEWSKI, a Canadian citizen illegally in the United States, and that he had used the Putenko alias since 2005.

Agents located two suitcases in the sleeper car in which SAPIEJEWSKI was traveling, however SAPIEJEWSKI denied that he owned the suitcases. The agents transported SAPIEJEWSKI and the two suitcases (as abandoned property) to the Havre U.S. Customs and Border Protection Station.

When questioned again, SAPIEJEWSKI admitted one of the suitcases was his. He pulled a key out of his pants pocket and opened the suitcase. The suitcase contained several pieces of expensive commercial camera equipment which SAPIEJEWSKI claimed to have purchased through the internet sales site known as Craig's list. He then declined to continue discussion about the equipment but indicated that law enforcement would find out about it anyway.

Further investigation revealed that the equipment was the subject of a recent stolen property report out of Seattle, Washington, by Optechs Digital. The company confirmed that they had been the victim of theft on March 22, 2010, three days before SAPIEJEWSKI was discovered on the train from Seattle. The train upon which SAPIEJEWSKI was found would have left Seattle only two days after the burglary. Optechs Digital provided an itemized list of the camera equipment stolen from their store. That list was compared with the items retrieved from SAPIEJEWSKI's suitcase and the serial numbers were found to be identical - consisting of two camera bodies and ten camera lenses, with an approximate retail value in excess of $70,000.

SAPIEJEWSKI has a criminal record in Canada for breaking and entering, burglary, and theft related offenses. No evidence was found to suggest that SAPIEJEWSKI was, or ever has been, a professional photographer or engaged in any lawful business in which such equipment would be used.

SAPIEJEWSKI faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and at least 3 years supervised release.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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