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.
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.