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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — On a Sunday in May, a boat pulled up to the dock at a U.S. Marine base in North Carolina and dropped off three people who military police later learned had entered the country illegally.

Now a married couple is facing prison.

Timothy Scott Belcher, 56, and Georgina Belcher, 63, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of transporting workers in the U.S. illegally, prosecutors in the Eastern District of North Carolina said. The Belchers are accused of smuggling the workers on a motorboat into Camp Lejeune.

Prosecutors said they were brought to the dock to circumvent an ID check at the base gate.

According to a news release, the workers were employed by Georgina Belcher at her drywall company that had been contracted by the U.S. military. They were picked up in nearby Jacksonville, a city in Onslow County that sits on the New River, and dropped off several miles down river at Wilson Boat dock.

“Since Georgina employed (people) unlawfully present in the U.S., she asked Timothy to put them on his boat and (smuggle) them on to base,” the government said.

A civilian reportedly saw the boat pull up on May 2 with the workers, who climbed into a waiting Jeep Cherokee owned by Georgina Belcher. Prosecutors said military police caught up with them shortly thereafter.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Belchers admitted to smuggling workers onto the base and paying them between $100 and $150 a day to install drywall for Georgina Belcher’s company.

The couple faces up to five years in prison, $250,000 in fines and three years of supervised release when they are sentenced Nov. 16, prosecutors said.

©2021 The Charlotte Observer.

Visit charlotteobserver.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The entry to Camp Lejeune is shown in this undated file photo.
The entry to Camp Lejeune is shown in this undated file photo. (Justin Rodriguez/U.S. Marine Corps)

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