By John O'Brien, The Post-Standard
on January 15, 2013 at 4:37 PM, updated January 15, 2013 at 8:15 PM

Syracuse, NY -- A Playboy magazine playmate appeared in federal court this morning on charges of trying to smuggle her Canadian boyfriend across the border last summer.

Colleen Shannon, 34, of Los Angeles, was charged in August with helping to smuggle Robert Skojo and transport him after he sneaked across the border by boat through the Akwesasne Mohawk Indian Reservation, which straddles the border.

Skojo's criminal record in Canada would've prevented him from entering the U.S. legally, according to court papers.

Shannon was the centerfold for Playboy's 50th anniversary edition in 2004. She works as a nightclub disc jockey who goes by the title "world's sexiest DJ."

Shannon told U.S. District Judge Norman Mordue she wanted a new lawyer for her trial, which had been scheduled to start this week. Mordue granted her request to drop her lawyer, Mark Sacco, and gave her two weeks to hire a new one.

The judge scheduled the case for Feb. 1, when Shannon's new lawyer will have to appear in court. The judge told Shannon she would not be required to appear on that date.

A new trial date has not yet been set.

Shannon declined to comment to a reporter after today's court appearance.

In court papers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gwendolyn Carroll spelled out the government's case against Shannon.

U.S. Border Patrol agents stopped Shannon on Aug. 15 at the Massena point of entry, where she'd driven alone in Skojo's 2005 Bentley, court papers said. She declared that she had $9,800 in cash with her, which she said was from her job as a DJ. She could not provide proof that Skojo had given permission to drive his car.

Shannon told the agents she was an actress and that she was driving to New York City to meet her agent, the court papers said. Border Patrol let her go, then notified agents with Homeland Security Investigations. Agents watched her drive to a hotel in Fort Covington, NY, near the border of the Indian reservation, and Skojo met her there that night, papers said.

The next morning, both of them were arrested.

Shannon told agents that she shouldn't be charged with alien smuggling because she didn't drive Skojo across the border.

"Instead, according to Shannon, she was simply picking up her boyfriend," the prosecutor's court papers said.

Skojo told agents he and Shannon wanted to live together in Los Angeles, but that he knew his criminal record in Canada would bar his legal entry to the U.S. Skojo was convicted in Canada in 1990 of "procuring sexual services" and "living on the avails of prostitution," court papers said. He was also convicted of drug charges in 1996 and 1999.

Skojo began dating Shannon in 2011 after she DJ'd a party he hosted, court papers said.

Skojo was sentenced in November to six months in jail for entering the U.S. illegally, and faces deportation when he's released from jail.

If she's convicted, Shannon would face between 33 and 41 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, Carroll wrote in court papers.

Playboy playmate appears in Syracuse on charges of smuggling illegal immigrant |