by Mike Donoghue
A version of this news story appeared in The Islander newspaper this week.
An illegal immigrant from England, who authorities in Vermont say unlawfully attempted to sneak back across the international border into the United States to be with his wife for the birth of their first child, has been sentenced in federal court to 10 days in prison.
Bernard Patrick Larkin, 23, of Bristol, England will now face deportation proceedings following his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Burlington.
He unlawfully crossed from Canada into Alburgh, just three weeks after being ordered deported upon orders from an Immigration Judge in Boston, records show. The defendant had wanted to reunite again in the U.S. with his wife, Sarah Jones Larkin, who was due to have their first child late last week, records show.
Larkin pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday afternoon to illegal entry on Sept. 19 and Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle in Burlington agreed to impose a “time served” penalty equal to the days the defendant has been jailed since the U.S. Border Patrol intercepted him crossing into Alburgh.
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Justin Zielinski was working near Line Road in Alburgh and Larkin entered the county on foot without checking in with immigration officials, records show. He crossed the line almost two miles west of the official Alburgh Port of Entry.
Larkin got into a Florida-registered car that was eventually stopped near the West Swanton bridge area, officials said. Border Patrol Agent Jamie M. Montoya said the driver was identified as Elvis Mbeng Mbi, a national of Cameroon and a naturalized citizen of the Unites States. Mbi admitted picking up Larkin near the border at the request of his wife, Montoya said.
Records show Larkin had earlier entered the U.S. about July 2023 by boat from the Bahamas and did not go through a legal port of entry. An Immigration Judge ordered him removed, which was done Aug. 30 at Logan International Airport in Boston, Montoya said.
After Larkin was caught 3 weeks later in Alburgh, records show he had a history of using numerous aliases. An immigration detainer was filed against Larkin to hold him once his criminal case was resolved.
Assistant Federal Defender Sara Puls said Larkin, who is a bricklayer, and his wife were looking for a better life in America. Puls said the Larkins regret they did not go through the proper legal channels to gain lawful admission to the USA. Puls said Mrs. Larkin was desperate to have her husband in the United States for the birth of their baby.
Puls said Mrs. Larkin was unable to return to England because she was in her third trimester and plane travel was impossible. She has been stuck in the U.S. by herself and was due on Saturday, Puls said. She said Mrs. Larkin is prepared to leave for England as soon as she is cleared.
Larkin told the court the U.S. is “an amazing country,” but won’t be coming back again.
Puls said the defendant accepted responsibility for his actions immediately after he was caught.
“He is devastated he will not be with his wife for the birth of their first child, but acknowledges that it was his poor decisions that resulted in the current situation, and he accepts responsibility for his actions,” Puls wrote. “Neither of the Larkins will ever be returning to the United States,” Puls said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ophardt agreed to let Larkin plead to a misdemeanor count and told the court the government would dismiss the felony indictment.
Doyle said a 6-month prison term was possible, but in light of the facts, the plea deal for time served appeared to be appropriate. Doyle also agreed to waive any fine and court costs for the father-to-be.