A retired U.S. judge must pay a $2,500 fine after pleading guilty on Tuesday in Abbotsford provincial court to attempting to smuggle two loaded guns across the border into Canada.
Markel Kay Chiles, 56, did not appear in court but was represented by his lawyer Richard Ballantyne, who presented a joint submission with Crown counsel Gerry Sair.
Judge Steven Point was told that Chiles, a resident of Mesa, Arizona, arrived at the Huntingdon border crossing to enter Abbotsford from Sumas, Wash. on May 13, 2014.
He was travelling in a motorhome, and he told a border services officer that his plan was to meet up with his wife and her parents in Alaska for an extended holiday.
He suffered from anxiety and did not like flying, Sair said.
When Chiles was asked whether he was transporting any guns or ammunition, he said he was not, but then remembered he had a flare gun on him.
This resulted in an inspection of his motorhome, during which officials found a small black metal box tucked under the passenger seat.
The box contained a Bond Arms Texas Defender mutli-barreled handgun and a Cobra Enterprises .22 calibre handgun.
Sair said Chiles told officers that he didn’t realize the guns were there, and the Texas Defender belonged to a friend of his with whom he had gone shooting about a year prior. The gun was shown to be registered in his friend’s name.
Sair said Chiles indicated that the .22 calibre gun belonged to his son, to whom he had loaned his motorhome a few weeks prior.
Chiles was charged with seven offences, but pleaded guilty to smuggling goods into Canada and the unauthorized possession of a firearm. The other five similar charges were stayed.
The two lawyers did not seek a weapons prohibition, with Sair saying that they do not have any concerns that Chiles will try to bring more guns into Canada.
“I don’t think he wants to come back,” Sair said.
Chiles made headlines in the U.S. after he was cited by police for shoplifting an iPod speaker from a Walmart store in March 2013.
Ballantyne referred to this as “an unfortunate, embarrassing incident” that resulted in his client resigning from his judge’s position. Chiles was eventually fined $300 for the shoplifting offence.
He had served as a judge in Mesa since his election in November 2006.