Reality TV star fined $31K for filmed stunt in Yukon

Tony Beets of 'Gold Rush' was found guilty in Yukon court of allowing employees to pour gas into a dredge pond and then setting it on fire in 2014.

Tony Beets of 'Gold Rush' guilty of allowing employees to pour gas into dredge pond, then setting it on fire

Tony Beets in front of the Whitehorse courthouse in April. He was sentenced in Yukon Territorial Court on Friday. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Yukon judge Peter Chisholm said polluters in the territory must be aware they will be treated seriously by the courts, as he sentenced one of the stars of the Discovery Channel program Gold Rush.

He fined Tony Beets and Beets's company Tamarack Inc. a total of $31,000 in Yukon territorial court on Friday.

Territorial government lawyer Megan Seiling had asked for fines in the $50,000 range, while defence lawyer André Roothman had suggested $14,000.

Beets and his company were both found guilty of allowing employees to pour gas into a dredge pond and then setting it on fire. It occurred in October, 2014, at his mining operation on the Indian River near Dawson City, Yukon.

The company was also convicted of two violations of its water licence.

The stunt was broadcast on the Discovery Channel in February, 2015, with Yukon mining enforcement officials receiving a complaint shortly after that.

Judge Chisholm noted that Beets could have prevented the stunt from happening, but didn't.

He added the miner was an active participant in its filming and that there was no evidence Beets tried to prevent the dramatic way it was shown to audiences around the world.

The scene shows Beets standing in front of the flames saying, "I told you guys, 'come hell or high water', didn't I? How do you like that?"

Chisholm said for Beets, the TV exposure was beneficial. He also found the miner has not shown remorse for the stunt.

Beets and his company have three months to pay the fines. He declined to speak with reporters as he left the courthouse on Friday.


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