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December 01, 2010

Derby Line Pharmacist Challenges Fine for Illegal Border Crossing

Derby-6 As promised, Roland "Buzzy" Roy has hired a lawyer to fight the $500 fine he got last February for illegally crossing the border from Derby Line into Canada to get a pizza.

Roy, a pharmacist, recently hired the St. Johnsbury-based firm Sleigh & Williams to challenge the fine he received from U.S. Customs and Border Protection on February 6, 2010. On that night, Roy strolled along Church Street across the border into Standstead, Quebec and was stopped by Vermont State Police as he re-entered.

Miffed about the encounter with the cops, Roy crossed two more times that night, ultimately getting stopped by border guards and fined $5000 — a penalty later lowered to $500.

(Roy made national news when NPR did a piece about him. Click here for that story. Click here to read 7 Days' staffer Lauren Ober's cover story about the towns).

Now, he wants the $500 fine expunged, but Customs and Border Protection hasn't responded to his appeal. In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Nov. 19, Roy asks the court to compell the feds to rule on his fine request.

In the filing, attorney David Sleigh notes that the 67-year-old Roy has lived in Derby Line his entire life, is an elected official, operates a small business and has no criminal record. Like other Derby Line and Stanstead Quebec residents, Sleight writes, Roy has been crossing the border almost daily since he was a teenager to visit friends, shop or dine out.

The cross-border culture is deeply ingrained in these two towns. The public library and opera house both straddle the international border. The towns share a municipal water supply and sewer system. In Roy's case, many of his regular customers live on the Canadian side.

"But for reasons that remain unclear," Sleigh writes, "the enforcement at Church Street changed, suddenly and without notice on February 6. ...There had been no notice given as to the sudden new enforcement of a ban on crossing the border at Church Street."

File photo by Matthew Thorsen.

Meanwhile, while these sharp pizza sniffing agents were busy following the aroma of Oregano, an 18 wheeler drove by them with 30,000 pounds of cocaine(not bananas) Thanks to the late Harry Chapin for helping me with these words.

Buzzy is a trustee of the village. There was an agreement in place, between the trustees and the Border & Customs Enforcement management that besides Main Street, Church Street would stay open to pedestrians. In return, BCE would construct gates on two other streets that join the border villages. Then they got extra money for extra city/town/county police from all over the state ("Operation Stone Garden", federal money)and started super-enforcement in violation of the agreement and with officers untrained in border operations and protocols. The friendliest border became a model of police paranoia in the name of security. A victory for terrorists.

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