MISSOULA — A Canadian national suspected of illegally crossing into Montana near Eureka and arrested after an armed encounter with a Border Patrol officer and pursuit through the woods appeared on criminal charges on Friday, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said today.
Tommy Plante, also known as Joseph Sylvain Tommy Plante, 32, of Edmonton made an initial appearance on a criminal complaint accusing him of illegal entry into the United States and prohibited person in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
If convicted of the most serious crime, Plante faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. A criminal complaint is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Judge DeSoto ordered Plante detained pending further proceedings.
According to the criminal complaint and affidavit filed in support of the complaint, the government alleged that on the evening of April 19, the Eureka Montana Border Patrol Station received information from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that Plante was possibly in a kayak on Lake Koocanusa and may be attempting to enter the United States.
The next morning, a Border Patrol agent arrived in the area and saw a beached kayak and campsite in Montana, about one-quarter mile south of the border. The agent approached the subject, later identified as Plante, and identified himself as with the Border Patrol.
The court documents allege that Plante stepped toward the agent and grabbed a rifle that was leaning against a tree. The agent drew his government-issued handgun while taking cover behind a tree and ordered Plante to put down his rifle.
Plante slung the rifle on his shoulder and put up his hands but did not put down the rifle, according to prosecutors. Plante picked up a water bottle and ran into the woods. Multiple agencies joined in a ground and air search for Plante, who was arrested without injury about approximately five and one-half miles from the initial encounter.
The case was investigated by the Border Patrol and the Air and Marine Operations, both within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security; FBI; Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks; and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.