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Capitol riot far-right internet personality gets 60 days

WASHINGTON (AP) — A far-right internet personality who streamed live video while he stormed the U.S. Capitol was sentenced on Tuesday to two months of imprisonment for joining the mob’s attack on the building.

Anthime Gionet, known as “Baked Alaska” to his social media followers, declined to address the court before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden sentenced him to 60 days behind bars followed by two years of probation. Gionet had faced a maximum of six months of imprisonment.

Gionet incriminated himself and other rioters with the video that he streamed to a live audience of roughly 16,000 followers. The 27-minute video showed him encouraging other rioters to stay in the Capitol.

“You did everything you could to publicize your misconduct,” the judge told Gionet. “You were there encouraging and participating fully in what was going on.”

Inside an office for Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, Gionet filmed himself picking up a telephone and pretending to report “a fraudulent election,” parroting former President Donald Trump’s baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

“We need to get our boy, Donald J. Trump, into office,” Gionet added.

Gionet joined others in chanting, “Patriots are in control!” and “Whose house? Our house!” Before leaving, he profanely called a Capitol police officer an “oathbreaker.”

Gionet, 35, pleaded guilty in July to a misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing inside a Capitol building.

Prosecutors recommended sentencing Gionet to 75 days of incarceration, three years’ probation and 60 hours of community service.

Gionet worked at BuzzFeed before he used 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 it erupted in violence on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia.

On Jan. 6, Gionet was a ”professional troll engaged in increasingly provocative and criminal behavior in an apparent effort to drive online engagement and increase his notoriety and earning power,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Franks said in a court filing.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan originally was scheduled to sentence Gionet. Sullivan recently withdrew from Gionet’s case and several others for reasons that aren’t specified in court filings, although he took “senior status” and retired from full-time duty nearly two years ago.

Gionet celebrated online when his case was reassigned to McFadden, a Trump nominee. On a live stream, Gionet praised McFadden as “a very awesome judge who is a pro-Trump judge and one of the judges that let one of the guys off innocent in his trial.”

McFadden acquitted a New Mexico man, Matthew Martin, of riot-related charges in April 2022 after hearing trial testimony without a jury. Martin is the only Jan. 6 defendant who has been acquitted of all charges after a trial.

More than 900 people have been charged with federal crimes related to Jan. 6. Nearly 500 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor offenses, and over 350 of them have been sentenced.

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

Defense attorney Zachary Thornley said Gionet went to the Capitol “to document” and didn’t engage in any violence or destruction. The lawyer argued in a court filing that Gionet “never crossed the line from being a protestor to a rioter.”

“He is opinionated and he was there in support of former President Trump, but his genuine purpose for being there was to document,” Thornley wrote.

Mainstream internet platforms, including Twitter, suspended Gionet’s accounts before Jan. 6. At the Capitol, he was livestreaming video using a fringe service called DLive. He told authorities that viewers paid him $2,000 for his livestreams on Jan.5 and Jan. 6.

Under Elon Musk’s ownership, 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 jailed for five days. He moved from Arizona to Florida after his release.

Gionet was sentenced to 30 days in jail for misdemeanor convictions stemming from a December 2020 encounter in which authorities say he shot pepper spray at an employee at a bar in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Gionet initially balked at pleading guilty to the Jan. 6 charge during an earlier hearing. Sullivan refused to accept a guilty plea by Gionet in May after he professed his innocence at the start of what was scheduled to be a plea agreement hearing.

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

“Protesting what?” the judge asked.

“I guess him as a person,” the defense lawyer replied.