A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Simone Gold, the founder of the anti-vaccine group America’s Frontline Doctors, to 60 days in prison for trespassing in the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021 attack, blasting her for using her legal woes to raise $430,000 for herself and her organization.
The judge also called it a “disservice to the true victims that day” that Gold has given supporters the “misimpression” she was politically persecuted for giving a speech, and raised $430,000 for her personal and organization expenses.
“January 6 was about a lot of things, but it was not about the First Amendment, and it was certainly not about covid treatment or vaccines,” Cooper said.
“I find it unseemly that your organization is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for its operations, including your salary,” he added later, asserting that Gold was generating the money “by mischaracterizing what this proceeding is all about.”
“People need to know this is not acceptable,” the judge said. “This is not what this process is all about.”
In a tremulous voice, Gold told the judge that she was “shocked” that prosecutors believed that she was not remorseful, and that she did not intend to take part “in a situation that was so destructive to our nation.”
“I was misguided. I should not have entered,” Gold said, “Everything I did on January 6, misguided or not, was consistent with my effort to do my best for people.”
Unmoved, the judge noted he had heard more talk about how the case had restricted Gold’s travel than about those affected by the riot.
“I have heard a lot about how you are not able to fly,” Cooper said, “but I haven’t heard anything about the five people who died. The four people who committed suicide afterward. Or the staffers” and others locked down in fear for their safety.
Gold attorney Dickson J. Young had asked for a sentence of community medical service, saying his client did not commit or incite violence.
“With the exception of seeing the broken window, and seeing the officer pulled down by a person other than herself at the east side of the Capitol, she simply entered the door,” Young said.
Young sought to distance himself from Gold’s fundraising. He said her legal expenses were nowhere near the $430,000 she raised for her purported legal defense, and that she paid them out of her pocket. Her fundraising pitch did say that unused money would go to her organization.
The misdemeanor offense to which Gold pleaded guilty is punishable by up to one year in prison, though federal sentencing guidelines called for a term of or zero to six months.
About 70 out of 175 people sentenced for misdemeanor offenses in the Jan. 6 riot have received jail time; the average term is about 44 days.
Prosecutors April Ayers-Perez and Jason M. Manning asked Cooper to sentence Gold to 90 days in jail, and the court’s presentencing office — in a rare move — recommended six months. Both said Gold’s conduct was extreme for Capitol breach trespassers, because she helped direct and promote that day’s chaos, ignored police commands to leave, and gave speeches on her way out.
“The defendant has not shown remorse. She has not accepted responsibility for her conduct … that has remained consistent over time,” Ayers-Perez said. “She has continued to minimize and diminish her responsibility and her criminal conduct throughout.”