Wisconsin Resident Alex Timofeev Can Stay in U.S. After Teenage Pot Charges

| by Allison Geller

A Wisconsin father can breathe easy now that the threat of deportation back to his native Russia has disappeared.

Alex Timofeev, 35, was facing deportation after spending most of his life in the United States due to pot possession charges he accrued as a teenager in the 90s. Now, after over a year of struggling with the courts following four months in a detention center, the court agreed to drop the no-contest pleas that Timofeev made as a teen.

“It was either vacate those convictions or Alex gets deported,” said Timofeev’s attorney, Davorin Odrcic.

Odcric said that federal law changed in 1996 to take back immigration judges' discretion in examining individual circumstances when deciding on deportations. Many other longtime legal residents are finding themselves facing sudden deportation for minor crimes they already paid for, as the administration amps up its efforts to remove noncitizen residents. In 2012, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service reported removing 225,390 people, mostly those convicted of crimes involving drugs or drunk driving.

Judge Ellen Berz agreed with Odrcic's point, citing a state law that requires judges to notify a defendant if a plea “is likely to result in the defendant’s deportation.” At the time of his convictions, Timofeev knew little English and didn’t understand what he was risking in pleading no-contest.

Timofeev, who worked as a chef before his detention, called the decision “the best news of my life, honestly.”

“I’m glad that through so many people’s hard work, I can stay here and be a parent to my children and be a child to my parents,” he said.

Sources: Wisconsin State Journal