breach of recognizance

Toronto man says coronavirus prank on plane was just to create a viral video

Is there anything people won't do for internet clout these days?

Wannabe Soundcloud rapper James Potok, who calls himself Potok Philippe, has admitted that he was attempting to "go viral" (no pun intended) when he made a joke about having coronavirus to a plane full of people, causing the flight to have to reroute back to Toronto halfway through its trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica on Monday.

"I was looking to get a viral video," Potok told Global News. "I figured it would invoke some kind of reaction, like 'this kid's got some balls' or 'this kid's crazy,' whatever it is."

Right, totally reasonable.

Westjet was forced to follow its company-wide infections disease protocols, giving Potok a mask and gloves and separating him from other passengers before the plane's arrival back in Canada.

A number of travelers did catch some footage of the incident — most of it making Potok look like a complete idiot, with people booing, sarcastically saying "that was a good one, buddy" and (rightfully) calling him a clown as he exited the aircraft.

The 28-year-old, who is from the Thornhill area, has since been charged with mischief and breach of recognizance — also, informally, with making all millennials look like jackasses — the second meaning he has been charged criminally in the past and released conditionally. 

Potok, by his own admission, has apparently pulled a similar stunt on a flight before, getting up and demanding the entire plane's attention to try and garner some form of publicity for himself.

"I'm an artist, any publicity for myself is good publicity," he told Global.

Potok said in the same interview that people have "all types of positions" on the incident, with some people "happy," somehow, and some upset. He added that this most recent prank was wrong and "in poor taste."

The remaining 242 passengers were put on another flight to their vacation destination early Tuesday morning. Another flight which was due to make its way back from Jamaica to Toronto on Monday was also postponed until yesterday.

Potok is due in court March 9.

Lead photo by

potokphilippe


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