Casino executive and actress plead guilty after flying to Indigenous community for Covid vaccine

Donation to global vaccine programme may have helped pair avoid jail time

Justin Vallejo
New York
Friday 18 June 2021 00:13
comments
<p>Former gambling executive Rodney Baker and his actress wife Ekaterina Baker</p>

Former gambling executive Rodney Baker and his actress wife Ekaterina Baker

Leer en Español

Canadian millionaires who charted a private jet to a small First Nations settlement for Covid vaccines admitted to violating local pandemic restrictions, according to reports.

Former gambling executive Rodney Baker and his actress wife Ekaterina Baker, of Vancouver, pleaded guilty to violating the Civil Emergency Measures Act that required people to isolate for 14 days after entering Yukon, according to court records reported by The New York Times.

The couple received a backlash in Canada after extensive media coverage about the "wealthy white couple" who took vaccines intended for elderly Indigenous people.

The pair had flown from their home in Vancouver to the Yukon capital of Whitehorse on 19 January, where the two-week quarantine was mandatory, and then charted a flight further north to Beaver Creek, a settlement of about 100 that had been prioritised because of its older population from the White River First Nation, The Guardian reported.

The couple had claimed they worked at a nearby motel to receive the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr Baker later resigned from his role as chief executive of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which operates casinos and hotels across the country. His wife, a Russian-born actress, recently appeared in Fatman with Mel Gibson and Chick Fight with Alex Baldwin, Bella Thorne and Malin Ackerman, according to IMDB.

Yukon Territorial Court Justice Michael Cozens told the virtual hearing the couple would be fined a combined C$2,300; or $1,000 plus a $150 surcharge each, about USD $1,890 or £1,340 each.

The court heard that they also donated C$5,000 each to the UN-led global vaccine program Covax, according to the Associated Press, about USD $8,100 or £5,800, combined.

It may have helped the couple avoid jail time, with crown prosecutor Kelly McGill quoted by The Guardian that they considered a stronger sentence but the donations and guilty plea were "mitigating factors".

Judge Michael Cozens said during court proceedings that it was fortunate that no one got Covid as a result of the couple’s actions.

"There was harm, but the harm wasn’t anyone catching Covid. It was certainly psychological," he said, according to CBC.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments