Former Olympic rower Harold Backer pleads guilty to fraud

Backer changed his plea in Victoria on Wednesday; the Crown is seeking a 13-month jail sentence

A former Olympic rower who mysteriously disappeared for nearly 18 months has pleaded guilty to fraud.

Harold Backer changed his plea Wednesday in Victoria provincial court on a single charge of fraud over $5,000.

The three-time Olympian was previously facing two charges of fraud over $5,000 and had pleaded not guilty on both counts.

Backer disappeared on Nov. 3, 2015, when he failed to return home after telling his family he was going out for a bike ride.

RELATED: Missing Olympian turns himself in to Victoria Police

The investment dealer surrendered to police in April 2017 and his whereabouts during that period of time hasn’t been explained.

Soon after he disappeared, financial crime investigators began looking into Backer and the company My Financial Backer Corp. after his investors received letters that concerned them.

The 55-year-old was on the Canadian rowing team in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games.

After his disappearance, police in Port Angeles, Wash., said an officer who viewed video from a street security camera noted a man fitting Backer’s description was aboard a ferry from Victoria, a 90-minute trip away.

RELATED: Lawsuit seeks restitution from former Olympic Rower

The guilty plea was entered by defence lawyer Joven Narwal on behalf of Backer, a thin, bearded man who was dressed in a grey pinstripe suit.

Crown attorney John Neal told Judge Carmen Rogers he is seeking a 13-month jail sentence and three years of probation for Backer. He also wants a no-contact order for five people who lost money as a result of Backer’s fraud.

The Canadian Press

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