News and Press Releases

Maksymilian Sapiejewski Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on August 10, 2010, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, MAKSYMILIAN SAPIEJEWSKI, a 32-year-old citizen of Canada, appeared for sentencing. SAPIEJEWSKI was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 12 months
  • Special Assessment: $100
  • Restitution: $13,288.10
  • Supervised Release: 3 years

SAPIEJEWSKI was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to interstate transportation of stolen property.

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.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that SAPIEJEWSKI will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, SAPIEJEWSKI does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.



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