Rastesfaye Alpha Neil, who admitted to picking up three individuals who had crossed illegally into Montana from Canada and to leading law enforcement on a 76-mile car chase that ended near Whitefish, was sentenced in federal court on Friday, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a news release.
Neil, 40 years old, pleaded guilty on April 21 to the transportation of illegal aliens.
Prosecutors alleged that Neil knowingly transported Christopher White, a Jamaica citizen; Naseem Ali Mohammed, a Somalia national and Canadian legal permanent resident; and Afrah Ahmed Abdi, a United States legal permanent resident and Somalia national; to help them remain illegally in the United States. All three were wanted by various Canadian law enforcement agencies.
The government alleged that on January 23, the Spokane Sector Border Patrol responded to the West Kootenai area near Eureka for a report that three persons with backpacks and wearing dark clothing were entering the United States illegally.
Agents attempted a traffic stop of a southbound Nissan Sentra. While the Nissan initially yielded, it ultimately sped away as agents approached on foot.
The driver led law enforcement agencies on a 76-mile chase in which speeds reached 120 mph to 130 mph. The pursuit ended about one mile north of Whitefish when law enforcement successfully spiked the Nissan’s tires.
Law enforcement identified Neil as the driver and White, Mohammed, and Abdi as passengers who had illegally entered the United States. One of the illegal border crossers had been in contact with Neil, rental car companies and travel agencies. Neil had flown to Kalispell on January 22.
White was sentenced to two years in prison for conviction of illegal reentry of a deported or removed alien. Abdi was extradited to Canada, while Mohammed remains a fugitive.
Neil faced a possible sentence of five years in prison, a $250,00 fine and three years of supervised release. The government requested a sentence at the high end of the guideline range of 18 months to 24 months.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy presided, and sentenced Neil to time served of 238 days in custody and to three years of supervised release.