Two-month prison sentence for US green card holder who ‘seriously abused Irish passport’ in bid to bring child to US

Ennis courthouse
Ennis Courthouse

A JUDGE has imposed a two-month prison sentence on a US green card holder for falsely using an Irish passport in a bid to gain entry for a child to the United States.

At Ennis District Court on Wednesday (November 15), Judge Alec Gabbett imposed the prison term on Sergiu Cristian Lingurar (25) of 6808 Freshpond, Ridgewood, New York, for presenting a legitimate Irish passport at US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at Shannon Airport on July 24 in order to secure entry to the US for a Romanian national boy.

Judge Gabbett said that what occurred “was a serious abuse of an Irish passport”.

Det Sergeant Kevin O’Hagan said that the Irish passport was belonging to another male teenager and the CBP staff did not allow Mr Lingurar through with the Romanian boy when the photo on the passport did not match his face.

Judge Gabbett said that the incident would have initially given rise to “human trafficking” concerns and Det O’Hagan said that Mr Lingurar’s offence “shouldn’t be overblown and it might have been at the start”.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

Det O’Hagan said that there was “nothing sinister” in the case.

Counsel for Mr Lingurar, Conn McMahon BL, said that his client “is not a human trafficker” and Judge Gabbett said that he accepted that was the case.

Mr McMahon said that his client had shown great naivety in committing the offence under the Passport Act, adding that Mr Lingurar had embarked “on a misguided good deed to reunite this child with his parents” who live in the  US.

The court heard that the child had been living with a grandparent in the UK who had become ill.

Mr McMahon said that Mr Lingurar – who has lived in the US for the past 14 years – did not try to bring the boy into the US for money.

He said that his client has already served four weeks on remand in prison before securing High Court bail.

Mr McMahon said that Mr Lingurar is a married man with two children in the US and is anxious to get home to see them, noting that his bail conditions have meant that he has remained in Ireland since getting out of prison.

Mr McMahon said that his client has no previous convictions either in his native Romania or in the US. He said that his client has relied on his family for financial assistance while living in Cork on bail.

Det O’Hagan said that Gardaí are satisfied that Mr Lingurar came to Ireland to bring the child over to the US to be with his family.

The detective said that Mr Lingurar was to be paid €500 by a friend who was also parent of the boy.

He explained that Gardaí are also satisfied that Mr Linguarar knew that the boy had no rights to enter the US and he would be doing so by using a passport that was not his.

The court heard that Mr Lingurar may face problems getting back into the US now because of the offence.

Along with the two-month prison term back-dated to July 25t Judge Gabbett also imposed a fine of €500.

With time already spent in prison, Judge Gabbett said, Mr Lingurar  may have to go to the prison to be processed.