Lancaster County man sentenced for scuffle with Customs at PHL

Posted: June 07, 2012

A Lancaster County man who was involved in an altercation with Customs and Border Patrol agents at Philadelphia International Airport in 2007 was sentenced Wednesday in federal district court to time served and two years supervised release, with the first six months under home confinement.

John Randall Gillenwater, 29, of Gap, was also ordered to undergo drug treatment.

Gillenwater, who had been free on bail after a guilty plea in December, was taken into federal custody in February after he failed to appear for a court hearing.

He pleaded guilty to impeding a customs agent in the performance of his official duties and making a false statement. Federal Defender Susan Lin said in a sentencing memo that Gillenwater has had a long history of drug addiction and smoked marijuana almost daily since he was 12. She said he had stopped reporting to his probation officer after his plea hearing because he was getting high.

Now, Lin says Gillenwater understands his drug use has had "dire consequences" and he wants to overcome the addiction.

Gillenwater got in hot water with the feds five years ago after returning here with his then-girlfriend from a weeklong trip to Cancun, Mexico. At the time, there was an outstanding warrant on Gillenwater from Chester County for a parole violation, court papers said.

While passing through Customs on May 12, 2007, prosecutors said Gillenwater presented a stamped Customs Declaration Form of what had been his traveling companion’s form with her name crossed out and his written in.

After a Customs official realized he had been duped, he asked Gillenwater to wait but Gillenwater broke away and fled so fast he ran out of his shoes, court papers said. Gillenwater was subsequently apprehended but managed to wrest himself away from the officer’s grasp and ran out of the terminal toward Essington.

Gillenwater was able to evade arrest for more than four years, prosecutors said in court papers, before Chester County authorities arrested him last October and later turned him over to the feds.

Contact Michael Hinkelman at 215-854-2656 or hinkelm@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @MHinkelman.

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