Ambrozuk Pleads Guilty to Passport Fraud

By Beacon Staff

HELENA AP) – A Canadian man who intentionally crashed a rented airplane into a northwest Montana lake in 1982, leading to the accidental drowning of his girlfriend, has pleaded guilty to passport fraud.

Jerry Ambrozuk, 43, pleaded guilty Tuesday to making a false statement in application and use of a passport during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Texas.

Prosecutors said that in May 2004, Ambrozuk represented himself as Michael Lee Smith, a citizen of the United States, when applying for a passport. Court records said Ambrozuk used a fraudulent driver’s license, also in the name of Smith, to support his application.

A sentencing date in the passport fraud case has not been set.

In May, Ambrozuk was given concurrent 10-year suspended sentences after pleading guilty to felony criminal endangerment and felony criminal mischief. He was ordered to pay $34,000 in restitution – $19,500 to the owner of the plane he crashed, $10,000 in prosecution and court costs and $5,000 to the family of Dianne Babcock for funeral expenses.

Prosecutors said Ambrozuk was 19 when he crashed a rented Cessna 150 into Little Bitterroot Lake on Aug. 22, 1982. His passenger, the 18-year-old Babcock, drowned. Ambrozuk disappeared without reporting the crash and lived in Texas under the assumed name.

He was a fugitive for 24 years until he was arrested in August 2005 in Plano, Texas.

He maintains he and Babcock’s plan to elope came to a tragic end because the plane sank more quickly than he expected.

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