Faces jail time and severe personal consequences for storming the US CapitolSome defendants are trying to capitalize on their involvement in the deadly riots on January 6, using it as a platform to raise cash, promote business endeavors and boost social media profiles.
A Nevada man His mother, who was in prison on riot charges, asked him to approach a publisher for a book he wrote about the “Capitol incident”. A Rioters in Washington State Helped his father create clothing and other merchandise with slogans such as “Our Home” and images of the Capitol Building. A Virginia man On January 6, 2021, released a rap album with riot-themed songs and a cover photo of him sitting on a police vehicle outside the Capitol.
Those actions sometimes complicate matters for defendants when sentencing judges face them, as prosecutors point to profit-chasing activities for harsher sentences. The Justice Department is, in some cases, trying to recover money paid by rioters.
In one case, federal authorities have seized thousands of dollars from a defendant who sold his footage since January 6. In another case, a Florida man’s plea deal allows the US government to collect profits from any future books published. five years. And prosecutors are wanted A Maine man who raised more than $20,000 To surrender some money from supporters because a taxpayer-funded public defender is representing him.
Many of the rioters have paid a heavy personal price for their actions on January 6. At sentencing, rioters often ask for leniency on the grounds that they have suffered serious consequences for their crimes.
They lost jobs or entire careers. Marriage broke up. Friends and relatives shunned them or reported them to the FBI. Strangers have sent them hate mail and online threats. And they have racked up expensive legal bills defending themselves against federal charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies.
Websites and crowdfunding platforms set up to collect donations for capital riot defendants try to portray them as mistreated patriots or even political prisoners.
The anti-vaccine medical doctor who pleaded guilty Entering the Capitol illegally led to the creation of a nonprofit organization that raised more than $430,000 for her legal expenses. Dr. A fundraising appeal by Simone Gold’s group, America’s Frontline Doctors, did not mention her guilty plea, prosecutors noted.
Before sentencing Sonya to two months in prison, US District Judge Christopher Cooper called it “untrue” that her nonprofit staged the Capitol riots to raise money for her salary. Prosecutors said in court documents that it “beggars belief” that she has spent close to $430,000 in legal fees for her abuse case.
Another rioter, a New Jersey gym owner who punched a police officer During the siege, he raised more than $30,000 in online donations for the “Patriot Relief Fund” to cover his mortgage payments and other monthly bills. Prosecutors cited the fund in recommending the penalty for Scott Fairlamb, who is serving more than three years in prison.
“Fairlamb cannot thus ‘capitalize’ on its participation in capital violations,” Justice Department lawyers wrote.
Robert Palmer, a Florida man who attacked police officers at the Capitol asked a friend to create an online crowdfunding campaign for him after he pleaded guilty. After seeing a “Help Patriot Rob” campaign, a probation officer made a calculated sentencing recommendation for Palmer, not crediting him with taking responsibility for his behavior. Palmer acknowledged that a campaign post on January 6 had falsely portrayed his conduct. Accepting responsibility can help reduce a sentence by months or years.
“When you threw the fire extinguisher and the plank at the police officers, were you acting in self-defense?” asked US District Judge Tanya Chutkan.
“No, ma’am, I wasn’t,” Palmer said, before the judge sentenced him to more than five years in prison.
A group calling itself the Patriotic Freedom Project says it has raised more than $1 million in contributions and paid more than $665,000 in grants and legal fees for the families of capital riot defendants.
In April, a New Jersey-based foundation affiliated with the group filed an IRS application for tax-exempt status. As of early August, the IRS database no longer lists foundations as tax-exempt organizations. The Hughes Foundation’s IRS filing said its funds would “primarily” benefit the families of the Jan. 6 defendants, with about 60% of the donation going to the foundation’s activities. The rest will cover management and fundraising costs along with the salary, it adds.
The rioters have found other ways to enrich or promote themselves.
Jeremy GraceThe man, who was sentenced to three weeks in jail for entering the Capitol, tried to capitalize on his father’s involvement by helping him sell T-shirts, baseball caps, water bottles, decals and other gear emblazoned with the phrases “our home” and “back.” The Blue” and images of the Capitol, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Grace’s “struggle” to sell “Back the Blue” equipment was “particularly troubling” because he had seen other rioters confront police officers on January 6. However, the defense attorney said Grace did not break any laws or make any profit. By helping his father sell goods.
Federal authorities seized more than $62,000 from Dangal defendant’s bank accounts John Earl Sullivan, a Utah man who made more than $90,000 by selling his Jan. 6 video footage to at least six companies. Sullivan’s attorney argued that authorities had no authority to seize the money.
Richard “Bigo” Barnett, an Arkansas man photographed with his feet up on the desk in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has charged donors $100 for photos of him with his feet on the desk while incarcerated. Defense attorney Joseph McBride said prosecutors have “zero reason” to prevent Barnett from raising money for his defense before a December trial date.
“Unlike the government, Mr. Barnett does not have the American taxpayer footing the bill for his legal case,” McBride filed in court.
Texas real estate agent Jennifer Leigh Ryan Advertised her business on social media during and after the riots, boasting that she was “getting famous”. In messages sent after Jan. 6, Ryan “considered the business she needed to build because of the publicity she would get from joining the mob at the Capitol,” prosecutors said in court documents.
Prosecutors cited social media activity Trenice Evans III A Texas man who drank a shot of whiskey in a congressional conference room on January 6 was sentenced to two months in prison. Evans, Getter, A. Above has “aggressively exploited” his presence in the capital to expand his social media following. The social media site, founded by a former Trump adviser, prosecutors wrote ahead of Evans’ sentencing, scheduled for next Tuesday.
Some rioters are writing books about mob attacks or marketing videos they shot during the riots.
A unique provision in Adam Johnson The plea agreement allows the US government to collect profits from any books published over the next five years. After the riots, images of Johnson posing for photographs with Pelosi’s podium went viral. Lawyers said they insisted on the provision after learning that Johnson wanted to write “any kind of” memoir.
Ronald Sandlin, a Nevada man accused of assaulting officers near a Senate gallery door posted on Facebook that he was “working on a Netflix deal” to sell riot video footage. Later, in a call from prison, Sandlin told his mother that he had met with right-wing writer and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza and was in touch with podcaster Joe Rogan. He asked his mother to contact a publisher for a book he was writing “about the Capitol incident,” prosecutors said.
“I hope it turns into a movie,” Sandlin wrote in a March 2021 text message. “I plan to play Leonardo DiCaprio,” he wrote, adding a smiley face emoji.
For complete coverage of the Capitol riots, go to https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege