Home Internet Capitol Rebellion Far-right internet personality gets 60 days behind bars

Capitol Rebellion Far-right internet personality gets 60 days behind bars

WASHINGTON (AP) – A far-right Internet personality who live-streamed an attack on the U.S. Capitol was sentenced Tuesday to two months in prison for joining a mob in the attack on the building.

Anthime Gionet, known to her social media followers as “Baked Alaska,” declined to plead before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden sentenced her to 60 days behind bars and two years of probation. Gioneti faced a maximum sentence of six months in prison.

Gionet indicted himself and other rioters in a video broadcast to a live audience of about 16,000 followers. The 27-minute video shows him encouraging other protesters to stay inside the Capitol.

“You went out of your way to publicize your misconduct,” Judge Gionet said. “You were encouraging and fully involved in what was going on there.”

The judge allowed Gionet to remain free until he had to report to prison. After the verdict, Gionet told reporters that he considered his sentence a “victory” and planned to write a book while in prison.

Despite his guilty plea, Gionet said on Jan. 6 that he doesn’t think he broke the law and doesn’t regret being there.

“I grew a huge amount,” he said outside the courthouse. “But I’m still adamant that I’m there because I believe the election was rigged and I believe people should have the right to speak freely as long as they’re in peace.”

In Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley’s office, Gionet picked up the phone and pretended to be reporting on “rigged elections,” parroting former President Donald Trump’s baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

“We need to get our son, Donald J. Trump, into office,” Gionet said.

Gionet joined the others in chanting, “The Patriots are in control!” and “Whose House? Our house!” Before leaving, he insultingly called the Capitol Police “oath breakers.”

Gionet, 35, pleaded guilty in July to parading, demonstrating or picketing at the Capitol.

Prosecutors recommended that Gionet be sentenced to 75 days in jail, three years of probation and 60 hours of community service.

Gionet worked at BuzzFeed before using social media videos to become an influential figure in far-right political circles. He was scheduled to speak at the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in 2017 before violence erupted in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan was originally scheduled to sentence Gionet. Sullivan recently stepped down from Gionet’s case and several others for reasons not disclosed in court documents, though he received “senior status” and resigned from the full-time position about two years ago.

Gionet noted online when the job was assigned to Trump’s nominee, McFadden. In a live broadcast, Gionet praised McFadden as “a very awesome pro-Trump judge and one of the judges who acquitted one of the kids at trial.”

McFadden acquitted Matthew Martin of New Mexico of riot charges in April 2022 after hearing testimony without a jury. Martin is the only January 6 defendant to be acquitted of all charges after a trial.

More than 900 people have been charged with federal crimes related to Jan. 6. About 500 of them pleaded guilty, mostly to serious crimes, and more than 350 of them were sentenced.

Federal authorities used Gionet’s video to prosecute other rioters, including three men from New York. Antonio Ferrigno, Francis Connor and Anton Lunyk pleaded guilty last year and were sentenced to house arrest. Gionet’s live stream showed them in Merkley’s office.

Defense attorney Zachary Thornley argued in court that Gionet “never crossed the line from being a protester to being a rioter.” Thornley described his client as “a sort of guerrilla journalist.”

“He was there to file. This is what he does,” the lawyer told the judge.

Major internet platforms, including Twitter, suspended Gionet’s accounts before January 6. At the Capitol, he was streaming the video live using an outside service called DLive. He told authorities that viewers paid him $2,000 for his live broadcasts on January 5 and 6.

Elon Musk-owned Twitter has reinstated accounts belonging to Gionet and other far-right figures.

Gionet, who grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, was arrested in Houston less than two weeks after the riot and spent five days in jail. After his release, he moved from Arizona to Florida.

McFadden also ordered Gionet to pay a $2,000 fine and $500 in restitution. The judge said the January 6 riot was the “culmination of a petty crime spree” by Gionet.

In December 2020, Gionet was sentenced to 30 days in jail on misdemeanor charges stemming from an encounter in which he said he pepper sprayed an employee at a bar in Scottsdale, Arizona. Gionet was also charged and fined $300 in December 2020 for damaging a Hanukkah display outside the Arizona Capitol.

McFadden noted that Gionet recorded his crimes to capture social media followers and money.

“This is a very disturbing case, sir,” the judge told him.

“If he doesn’t go to prison, he’s not going to stop what he’s doing,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Franks said.

Gionet initially refused to plead guilty to the charge on January 6 during a previous hearing. Sullivan declined to plead guilty to Gionet after pleading not guilty in May.

Before Gionet pleaded guilty in July, Thornley told Sullivan that a protester was outside Gionet’s Florida home and recorded the virtual hearing by phone, a violation of court rules.

“Protest what?” – asked the judge.

“I guess him as a man,” replied the defender.

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