U.S. man who has repeatedly come to Canada illegally enters guilty plea


A U.S. citizen who has repeatedly entered Canada illegally after being deported has run afoul of the law yet again.

On Monday, Stephen Anthony Polnac, 53, pleaded guilty to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act offence during a brief appearance in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

Justice Neena Sharma accepted his plea as Polnac appeared by video link from prison. He had been scheduled to go to trial before a jury in October.

The Crown is expected to seek the maximum two years in prison for the repeat offender, although his lawyer will likely request a sentence of time served. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28.

Polnac was arrested in August 2019 in Vancouver after earlier being deported from B.C. in December 2017. It is not known exactly when he crossed the border back into Canada following the deportation.

In November 2017, then-B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin had sentenced him to the maximum two years in prison, but after getting credit for pre-sentence custody, he had seven weeks remaining to serve.

The jury in the case before Griffin heard that Polnac had been removed from Canada in 2012, but in September 2016, after it came to the attention of the Canada Border Services Agency that he was at a house in Vancouver, he was arrested.

The September 2012 deportation was the sixth time Polnac was removed from Canada. He had four prior convictions, the first being in September 2006, that saw him serving increasing amounts of jail time.

At the sentencing before Griffin, he repeatedly claimed to not know what the case against him was about, but the judge rejected that submission.

“The charge against him is straightforward and something he has considerable experience in dealing with,” the judge said at the time. “His claim to not know what the case was about seems to me to be completely insincere.”

Among the claims he made at his last trial were that he was a “heroic political prisoner,” a submission rejected by the judge. He also claimed that a mitigating circumstance was that he had two children in Canada and that his spouse continued to suffer from postpartum depression.

But the judge noted that despite knowing he was illegally in Canada and subject to being deported and to going to jail for breaking Canada’s immigration laws, Polnac chose to father two children in Canada.

“In his submissions, he attempted to use those children as the reason why he should not be deported,” said Griffin. “I found this to be unpersuasive logic.”