Ex-Gaming Exec Pleads Guilty In Vaccine Trial
Multimillionaire former Great Canadian Gaming Corporation CEO Rod Baker and his actress wife Ekaterina Baker officially pleaded guilty to crashing a Yukon Covid vaccine clinic in January. The pair faced charges of failure to follow declaration and for breaking self-isolation rules after chartering a plane to Beaver Creek. The couple presented themselves at the clinic, where they lied about being local essential workers in attempt to be receive the vaccination early. Their actions caused outrage, which was compounded when the couple was fined little more than $2,000 after making a vaccine program donation.
Crashing The Clinic
According to CBC News, the Bakers travelled from Vancouver to Whitehorse, where they chartered a private plane and flew Beaver Creek. A mobile clinic was providing the remote Yukon town’s largely elderly population with Covid vaccines. Rod Baker had made appointments online earlier, and that same day, the Bakers returned to Whitehorse, where they were met by Yukon CEMA officers at the airport while preparing to board a flight to Vancouver.
When they were questioned by health authorities, the Bakers said they were essential workers who were employed at the 1202 Motor Inn. Further investigation revealed that the couple had undertaken a massive deception.
It did not take long for the media to find out about the Bakers’ antics, and shortly after the event, Rod Baker resigned with immediate effect from his position as the gaming corporation’s CEO.
Guilty Plea And Fine
In June, the Bakers appeared before Yukon Territorial Court chief judge Justice Michael Cozens via video call. During the call, the couple pleaded guilty to breaking the region’s Civil Emergency Measures Act.
Prosecutor Kelly McGill said that the couple clearly had pre-planned the trip, and that this was only one of several aggravating factors. However, the couple expressed remorse for their wrongdoing and donated $10,000 to the COVAX vaccine program.
The chief judge fined the couple approximately $2,300; an amount that Beaver Creek locals described as “pocket money.” According to the Toronto Star, the cost of the Piper PA31 Navajo charter flight would have been around $5,000.
Janet Vander Meer presented a community impact statement during the court session, in which she said the inadequate fine was an insult to the town’s 40 members of the White River First Nation.
Judge Cozens said he agreed to the concerns of the locals as well as to their position, and he also accepted that the couple had put the town’s residents at risk. However, he added that even though the Bakers’ actions were deliberate, the court did not have much authority to ignore the recommended sentence.
Rita Hinton, who runs the establishment at which the Bakers said they worked, said she was disgusted by their actions, and she added that thought the punishment did not fit the crime.