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6 Americans fined for violations while driving through Canada to Alaska — despite tougher rules

Some Americans continue to defy the rules by making side trips when driving through Canada to or from Alaska, despite tough measures introduced in July to put a stop to it. 

In August, B.C. RCMP ticketed half-a-dozen Americans in two separate incidents for going off-route during their treks. The tickets totalled $ 4,500 in fines and, in one case, RCMP escorted a family of five out of Canada. 

“There are individuals who are continuing not to follow the rules,” said B.C. RCMP spokesperson Janelle Shoihet. “Those rules are put in place in order to protect everybody.”

In spite of the tickets issued, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said that since it introduced its new measures, the vast majority of Americans driving to or from Alaska have complied with the regulations.

CBSA crackdown

To help stop the spread of COVID-19, the Canada-U.S. land border closed to non-essential travel in late March. However, Americans can still drive through Canada to Alaska, or vice versa, for non-discretionary reasons, such as for work or school, or to return home. 

As a precautionary measure, drivers must take the most direct route possible and not make unnecessary stops.

Once summer hit, it became clear that some Americans were ignoring those rules after several were caught taking long hikes in Banff National Park. 

In an attempt to curb the problem, CBSA introduced strict new measures on July 31. Now, when Americans doing the Alaska-route enter Canada, they receive a written list of rules and the date on which they must check in with a CBSA officer and exit the country. 

The list of rules the Canada Border Services Agency issues to Americans driving through Canada to or from Alaska. (Submitted by CBSA)

The list of rules — which drivers must hang from their rearview mirror — include instructions to wear a face mask, avoid contact with others and order meals via drive-thrus. 

According to B.C. RCMP, each of those rules was broken on Aug. 31 when a group of three Americans stopped in Fort St. John, B.C. during their drive from Washington state to Alaska. 

The trio allegedly entered a restaurant while not wearing masks, dined in, and closely interacted with two Canadian customers both inside and outside the restaurant, said Shoihet with B.C. RCMP. 

“There were a number of violations.”

She said RCMP were tipped off by a restaurant employee “who was concerned about the well-being of the patrons and the employees.”

RCMP fined the three Americans $ 1,000 each under the federal Quarantine Act.

Defying a deadline

Although American drivers now get a deadline for when they must exit Canada, that didn’t stop one American family from overstaying their welcome. 

According to Shoihet, CBSA contacted B.C. RCMP on Aug. 29 when a family of five driving from Alaska to Washington State failed to check in at the B.C. border by their exit date. 

RCMP circulated the licence plate number of the family’s vehicle to law authorities. 

“A keen eye of a police officer in Vancouver was able to spot that license plate and then alerted us,” said Shoihet.

The three adult family members were fined $ 500 each under the Quarantine Act, and RCMP escorted the family to the B.C.-Washington border, she said.

“They were given an appropriate time in order to get from border to border and they failed to comply.”

WATCH | Trump surprised Canadian officials with this announcement:

U.S. President Donald Trump responded to a question about the border as he left the White House on Friday. 0:48

CBC News uncovered a third incident where an American woman driving from Alaska to Montana was fined $ 1,200 for stopping at Banff National Park on Aug. 6. According to Alberta RCMP, the woman entered Canada about two weeks prior — before CBSA introduced its new measures. 

RCMP said the drive to Montana should have only taken a few days and not included a pit stop in the park. 

Get rid of the Alaska-exemption?

The Alaska exemption has sparked concern from some Canadians who fear a number of Americans may be using it as a loophole to vacation here.

“You shouldn’t be stopping along the way to enjoy the sights and sounds of British Columbia,” B.C. Premier John Horgan warned Americans during a news conference in July

Some Canadians even question why the exemption is allowed, considering the U.S. has the world’s highest cumulative number of COVID-19 cases.

B.C. municipal politician Jim Abram of Quadra Island, B.C., would like to see an end to rules allowing Americans to drive through Canada to Alaska during the pandemic. (Submitted by Jim Abram)

Jim Abram, a municipal politician on Quadra Island, off the B.C. coast, was never a fan of the Alaska exemption. He said Americans continuing to break the rules — despite new CBSA measures — only strengthens his resolve that it should be axed.

“Just cancel it,” said Abram, who is the elected regional director for Discovery Islands-Mainland Inlets in B.C.

“The situation in the States is absolutely abominable, and we have worked so hard in B.C. to try and keep things manageable.”

Abram said Alaskan-bound Americans have other options, such as flying or taking the Alaska State Ferry, which sails from Bellingham, Wash., and carries vehicles.

Americans are allowed to drive through Canada to or from Alaska for non-discretionary purposes due to their “limited options” for travel, said CBSA spokesperson Ashely Lemire, in an email to CBC News.

Since the agency introduced tougher measures on July 31, more than 99 per cent of Americans making the trek have complied with the requirement to leave Canada on their mandated exit date, she said.

When asked if the CBSA is at all reconsidering the Alaska-exemption, Lemire replied that the agency regularly reviews its policies and makes necessary adjustments.

“The CBSA will always take the appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of those residing in Canada,” she said.

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Owners of Purdue Pharma took more money from opioid-producing company after being fined for misleading public

The wealthy owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma started taking far more money out of the company after it was fined for misleading marketing of the powerful prescription painkiller.

A court filing made by the company Monday evening shows Purdue made payments for the benefit of members of the Sackler family who own the company totalling $ 10.7 billion US from 2008 through 2017. That includes taxes and other payments. Family members received $ 4.1 billion in cash over that period. By contrast, distributions for the benefit of family members from 1995 through 2007 totalled $ 1.3 billion.

“Today’s report confirms what we revealed in our lawsuit: The Sacklers pocketed billions of dollars from Purdue while thousands of people died from their addictive drugs. This is the very definition of ill-gotten gains,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the first attorney general to sue Sackler family members, said in a statement.

The Sacklers’ wealth has received intense scrutiny from Healey and 23 other states attorneys general who are objecting to a plan to settle some 2,700 lawsuits against Purdue over the toll of opioids, including those filed by nearly every state.

The objecting attorneys general say that the settlement does not do enough to hold the family accountable for an opioid crisis linked to more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000. The settlement calls for the family to contribute at least $ 3 billion in cash over time and give up control of the company. In all, the plan could be worth up to $ 12 billion over time.

Purdue agreed to pay a federal fine of $ 635 million US for misleading the public about OxyContin’s addiction risks in 2007. (Douglas Healey/The Associated Press)

But the offer comes with a major catch: The company says the family may back out if lawsuits against family members are allowed to move ahead. They’re all on hold for now as the company’s settlement efforts play out in bankruptcy court.

In a statement Monday, Daniel Connolly, a lawyer for one branch of the Sackler family, said it’s not helpful to argue over how much family members received.

“The Sackler family hopes to reach a productive resolution where they contribute Purdue for the public benefit and provide at least $ 3 billion [US] of additional money to help communities and people who need help now,” he said, “which makes more sense for everyone than continuing litigation that only squander resources.”

The report by consultant Alix Partners included in a court filing Monday gives the most detail to date on how much the family benefited from Purdue — making public for the first time how much the family was paid by year.

The payments jumped beginning in 2008 — the year after Purdue agreed to pay a federal fine of $ 635 million for misleading the public about OxyContin’s addiction risks.

Federal data made public earlier this year showed that OxyContin sales grew even after the fine. And the death toll from opioids, a class of drug that includes prescription painkillers as well as heroin and illicitly made fentanyl, rose, too, peaking in 2017.

And the new filing shows Sackler family members brought in far more money. In each year from 2008 through 2013, the distributions to the family — or tax payments on their behalf — totalled well over $ 1 billion. The number went down to less than $ 800 million in 2014 and 2015, $ 651 million in 2016 and just over $ 200 million in 2017.

Family representatives did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press. But Daniel Connolly, a lawyer for some family members, told The New York Times in a statement, “This filing reflects the fact that more than half was paid in taxes and reinvested in businesses that will be sold as part of the proposed settlement.”

The family, listed by Forbes magazine in 2013 as one the nation’s 20 wealthiest, has stopped taking distributions from Purdue.

The filing shows the company kept paying family legal bills until early this year. From 2016 through Feb. 28, the company paid $ 17.6 million in Sackler legal bills, with nearly half that amount coming in 2019 as lawsuits mounted.

While Sackler family members remain the Stamford, Connecticut-based company’s owners, none are now on its board of directors.

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Driver fined $10K, disqualified after 3rd horse in Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races dies

A driver has been fined $ 10,000 and disqualified from the rest of the Calgary Stampede after a horse died in yesterday’s Rangeland Derby, the third death involving horses competing in the chuckwagon races. 

The fine follows an independent chuckwagon safety commission review of the incident involving driver Chad Harden, in Heat 7 of the race, where Evan Salmond’s lead horse hit the guard rail and stumbled to the ground at Stampede Park.

Stampede management said in a statement that Harden, of Thorsby, south of Edmonton, got his wagon in the way of another driver, causing the third wagon that belonged to Salmond, whose hometown is Hudson Bay, Sask., to hit the rail.

“The Calgary Stampede has a zero tolerance policy for preventable accidents and injuries, and the care and safety of the animals that participate in our events is our highest priority,” the organization said in a statement.

Video of the incident appears to show a chuckwagon team colliding with Salmond’s team, causing the crash.

Graphic warning: this video may be distrubing to some viewers.

Warning: This video contains scenes some may find difficult to watch. A driver was fined and disqualified from the rest of the Calgary Stampede after a horse died in a chuckwagon race Thursday. 1:36

Salmond was not injured. His other three horses sustained minor injuries.

A disqualification from the remainder of the Calgary Stampede means Harden won’t be invited back to compete.

Harden is a third-generation, veteran chuckwagon racer and 2009 Rangeland Derby champion. At the 2012 Calgary Stampede, he lost three horses when his wagon tumbled. At the time, he called their deaths devastating, and said the animals were part of his family.

In the other two incidents involving horses that died after competing in this year’s Rangeland Derby:

“With the death of two horses on previous nights of racing, this has been a difficult time for us and the greater chuckwagon community,” the Stampede said in the statement. “Seeing injuries, despite the best and safest conditions possible, is hard. Knowing an injury was avoidable is much harder.”

The Stampede’s roots can be traced to 1886, when the Calgary and District Agricultural Society held its first fair.

The 2019 Stampede began July 5 and runs till Sunday.

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Ronaldo fined for gesture mocking Atletico Madrid coach

UEFA has charged Cristiano Ronaldo for a provocative gesture mocking Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone after Juventus eliminated the Spanish club from the Champions League.

UEFA says its disciplinary panel will judge the charge of "improper conduct" on Thursday.

Simeone was fined 20,000 euros ($ 22,700 US) by UEFA for making an obscene gesture after Atletico took the lead in a 2-0 win over Juventus in the first leg.

Ronaldo's hat trick in the 3-0 win in the return leg in Turin last week sent Juventus to the quarter-finals.

Ronaldo celebrated at the final whistle by mimicking Simeone's gesture.

When Ronaldo played for Real Madrid, he twice won Champions League finals against Atletico.

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Costco fined $7.2M for accepting illegal kickbacks

The Ontario government has fined Costco more than $ 7 million after an investigation into allegations the bulk food giant asked for illegal kickbacks from a generic drug manufacturer.

The Fifth Estate first reported in March of last year, that the province's Forensic Investigations Team had launched the investigation.

The Ontario's Ministry of Health issued a statement Friday announcing the fine.

"Following an inspection, the Ministry determined that [Costco pharmacies] had received $ 7,250,748.00 for advertising services which the Ministry concluded violated the prohibition on rebates," the statement said.

"The Ministry takes non-compliance with the prohibition on rebates seriously and will continue to assess compliance with the prohibition by manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacies."

It's illegal in Ontario for a pharmacy to accept rebates, or kickbacks, from a generic drug manufacturer in exchange for promising to stock its brand of drugs. Studies show rebates drive up the price of generic drugs for consumers.

Secretly recorded audio tapes obtained by The Fifth Estate showed a senior pharmacy executive from Costco asking for kickbacks.

"As a minimum, I'd like to see somewhere around 3.6 million of support. That's a minimum," the executive can be heard saying.

A salesperson from generic drug manufacturer Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals first brought forward the allegations against Costco in 2015.

"I feel vindicated, I'm happy but it's not enough," said Tony Gagliese.

Tony Gagliese was a salesman with Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals. He blew the whistle on Costco by filing a complaint with the Ontario College of Pharmacists. (CBC)

According to the ministry, the fine levied is equal to the amount Costco received in kickbacks. Gagliese says the province should have come down harder on Costco.

"If you want to send deterrent, you have to send a strong message. This isn't a strong message. They are just paying back the money they took."

In 2018, two pharmacy directors with Costco pleaded guilty to professional misconduct in front of the Ontario College of Pharmacists.

The college accused Joseph Hanna and Lawrence Varga of asking for the illegal payments. They later conceded that the requests could "reasonably be regarded… as unprofessional," according to the decision from the college's disciplinary committee.

Each pharmacist was fined $ 20,000 and ordered to pay $ 30,000 in costs.

In a statement on Friday, Costco says it co-operated with the investigation and has agreed to pay the fine.

The company says it "honestly believed at the time that the advertising programs referred to were not contrary to Ontario law," and that it's "pleased that the rebate order issued by the Ministry provides further guidance on the issue of rebates."

The company pointed out that the decision of the college said at the time Costco was "operating in an area of legal uncertainty."

Costco added, it "would never knowingly or intentionally act in a manner which was inconsistent with the laws of Ontario." 

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Ronaldo pleads guilty to tax fraud, fined $28 million

Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo was fined almost 19 million euros ($ 28.7 million) for tax fraud on Tuesday but will avoid serving a 23-month prison sentence after agreeing to a deal.

Ronaldo, holding hands with his Spanish fiancee Georgina Rodriguez, came out of the court room smiling, pausing to sign autographs before leaving in a black van.

The 33-year-old Juventus forward, who played for Real Madrid from 2009-18, agreed to settle the case by paying an 18.8 million euro fine and accepting a two-year suspended jail sentence.

Under Spanish law, a first offender can serve anything less than a two-year sentence under probation and Ronaldo will not have to go to prison.

His court appearance lasted about 15 minutes as the five-time world footballer of the year only needed to sign off on the previously settled agreement.

Earlier, Ronaldo's former Real Madrid team mate Xabi Alonso walked in to face own tax fraud case with his hands deep in his suit pockets.

"Yes, all good," was his only response to reporters' questions.

Ronaldo had to enter the courtroom through the front door after his request for special security measures to avoid the spotlight was denied on Monday.

In 2017, Ronaldo denied the accusation that he knowingly used a business structure to hide income generated by his image rights in Spain between 2011 and 2014.

After reaching the deal, he paid a fine of 5.7 million euros, plus interest of about 1 million euros, in July 2018, the prosecutor's office said last week.

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Khloe Kardashian's Boyfriend Tristan Thompson Fined $15K for Making 'Inappropriate Gesture' at NBA Game

Tristan Thompson is in some trouble with the NBA.

On Thursday, it was announced by the league that the Cleveland Cavaliers center is being fined $ 15,000 for making an “inappropriate gesture” at a fan in attendance, according to ESPN.

The incident occurred near the end of the Cavaliers’ game against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, where Cleveland won 99-97. The 27-year-old ballplayer scored 19 points and claimed 14 rebounds throughout the game.

The news arrives just days after Khloe Kardashian, Thompson’s girlfriend and the mother of his child, shared that she’s undergone an amazing change to welcome the winter months.

On Wednesday, Kardashian revealed that she’s had her hair dyed platinum blonde!

I looooove my new hair color!” the 34-year-old reality star captioned a photo displaying the vibrant look. “Thank you so much @traceycunningham1 for always being available for my last minute hair ideas.”

Tracey Cunningham, her hairstylist, also shared some videos of the new look including one featuring baby True in her mother’s arms while in front of a Christmas tree.

So, although Thompson has a hefty fine to pay, he’s got one beautiful family waiting for him back home. That’s gotta help take the edge off!

Get more breaking news in the clip below.


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Woman fined $200 in Denmark's 1st 'burqa ban' violation

A 28-year-old woman wearing a face veil has become the first person in Denmark to be fined for violating a new law banning such garments in public places.

Danish news agency Ritzau reported that police were called Friday to a shopping centre in Horsholm, a city of 46,000 close to Copenhagen, to confront a woman wearing a niqab covering her face.

The woman was fined 1,000 Danish kroner ($ 200 Cdn) and was asked to either remove the veil or leave the premises. She opted to leave.

Since Aug.1, the country's much-debated "burqa ban" has prohibited full-body burqas, as well the niqab — Muslim dress which only shows the eyes. Both are rare in Denmark.

The government says the law is not aimed at any religion and does not ban headscarves, turbans or the traditional Jewish skull cap.

The Danish law allows people to cover their face when there is a "recognizable purpose" like cold weather or complying with other legal requirements, such as using motorcycle helmets. Anyone forcing a person to wear garments covering the face by using force or threats can be fined or face up to two years in prison.

Austria, France and Belgium have similar laws.

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Canadian pharmacy to be fined millions for illegal imports in US

An online pharmacy that bills itself as Canada’s largest is expected to be fined $ 34 million US Friday for importing counterfeit cancer drugs and other unapproved pharmaceuticals into the United States, a sentence that one advocacy group called too light for such a heinous crime.

Winnipeg-based Canada Drugs has filled millions of prescriptions by offering itself as a safe alternative for patients to save money on expensive drugs, and its founder, former Manitoba pharmacist Kristjan Thorkelson, has been hailed as an industry pioneer for starting the company in 2001.

But U.S. prosecutors say Canada Drugs’ business model is based entirely on illegally importing unapproved and misbranded drugs not just from Canada, but from all over the world. The company has made at least $ 78 million through illegal imports, including two that were counterfeit versions of the cancer drugs Avastin and Altuzan that had no active ingredient, prosecutors said.

After more than two years of struggling to get the international company to appear in U.S. court to face the felony charges, Canada Drugs and Thorkelson, struck a plea deal with prosecutors late last year.

Today, a judge in Missoula, Mont., will decide whether to approve federal prosecutors’ recommended sentences that include $ 29 million forfeited, $ 5 million in fines and five years’ probation for Canada Drugs. The recommendation for Thorkelson is six months’ house arrest, five years’ probation and a $ 250,000 fine.

Canada Drugs also will permanently cease the sale of all unapproved, misbranded and counterfeit drugs and will surrender all of the domain names for the myriad websites it used to sell the drugs, under the deal.

Harsher penalties sought

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen has the final say in the sentences, and an advocacy group is urging the judge to impose harsher penalties to deter future crimes.

“Counterfeiting oncology medications is a nearly untraceable and heinous health-care crime,” Shabbir Imber Safdar, executive director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines, wrote in a letter to the judge. “You put saline in a bottle, and when the cancer patient takes it, there is no evidence in the patient of the crime.”

Safdar said Thorkelson should receive prison time and that Thorkelson’s and Canada Drugs’ pharmacy licences should be surrendered. The group also wants Canada Drugs to give up all of its internet domain names, including ones not named in the plea deal, to prevent the company from continuing to sell misbranded and counterfeit medicine.

The College of Pharmacists of Manitoba  suspended Thorkelson’s licence to practice pharmacy in the province in December. 

“We feel that being a part of a scheme to sell Americans fake cancer drugs while you profit from it should be sufficient grounds for a long-term revocation of a pharmacist’s licence,” Safdar wrote.

Neither Safdar nor two of Canada Drugs’ and Thorkelson’s attorneys returned messages seeking comment Thursday.

Federal prosecutors wrote in court documents that the recommended sentence is appropriate.

“The United States believes that the above-referenced sentence is an appropriate one reflecting the seriousness of Thorkelson’s conduct, the need for just punishment and adequate deterrence to future criminal conduct,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad Spraker and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Joseph wrote.

The case is being handled in Montana, where Canada Drugs bought another company for its drug inventory and customer list when it was expanding in 2009. Canada Drugs continued to deposit money into that company’s Montana bank account from doctors’ purchases of the illegally imported drugs before the proceeds were shipped to offshore accounts in the Caribbean, prosecutors said.

The company and two overseas subsidiaries agreed to plead guilty to introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, and the subsidiaries also agreed to plead guilty to selling counterfeit drugs.

Thorkelson agreed to plead guilty to knowing about and concealing a felony crime.

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TFC, Club America fined for tunnel brouhaha

Toronto FC and Club America were fined an undisclosed amount by CONCACAF on Friday for an ugly off-pitch incident in a Champions League semifinal earlier this week.

TFC’s 3-1 first-leg victory over Club America at BMO Field on Tuesday night was marred by a half-time altercation in the tunnel as the two teams left the field.

“The [disciplinary committee] determined that Toronto FC and Club America clearly infringed the Competition Regulations, specifically Art. 52 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code which covers team conduct,” said a statement from CONCACAF, soccer’s governing body in North and South America. “In levying the fines for general team misconduct during the halftime of Tuesday’s semifinal match in Toronto, the Committee expressed that it considers the clubs’ conduct unacceptable, as it departs from the principles of Fair Play.”

Club America coach Miguel Herrera alleged through a translator that two Toronto police officers were physical with three of his players. He added that two CONCACAF staff members witnessed the incident and was hopeful they’d report what they saw to the proper officials, though on Wednesday morning a spokeswoman for the police force said she had no records of the incident.

Herrera also criticized the officiating. He said referee Henry Bejarano came into the Mexican team’s dressing room before the game and told players to change their underwear.

Toronto head coach Greg Vanney said the incident began when a Club America coach interacted with TFC star Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio came to his teammate’s defence.

Osorio, a 25-year-old Toronto native, said a Club America coach elbowed him in the nose.

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