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Woman gets probation for $52,000 smuggling try

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A woman who tried to smuggle more than $52,000 in cash out of the country last year will not go to prison.

A federal judge sentenced Maria Cecilia DeSario yesterday afternoon to three years’ probation, including three months of home detention, for bulk cash smuggling. DeSario, 46, also forfeited more than half the cash, $26,227.

She was facing up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

DeSario and her husband were traveling from California to the Philippines on June 26, 2009, when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Honolulu detained them after finding an envelope containing $20,000 cash in DeSario’s bag.

After DeSario told officials that was all the undeclared cash she was carrying, they found an additional $10,000 in her pockets. The officials then searched her husband and found he was carrying more than $22,000 in undeclared cash.

Each time officials discovered more cash, DeSario told them she and her husband were not carrying any more.

"That was the most regrettable day of my life," DeSario said.

Federal law requires anyone to report to the secretary of the treasury whenever he or she transports more than $10,000 into or out of the country at one time.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Butrick said the government would not have charged DeSario if she had not lied the first time or the second.

ICE officials seized the money, then allowed the DeSarios to continue their travel.

The DeSarios told officials they were going to use the cash to put a down payment on a condominium in the Philippines.

DeSario’s lawyer, Sam King Jr., said the DeSarios borrowed about half the money and that the rest came from their travel business.

 

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