A prominent anti-vaccine activist and founder of the group known as “America’s Frontline Doctors” has pleaded guilty on Thursday to storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 and will cooperate with the government’s investigation.
Physician Simone Melissa Gold and her spokesperson and co-defendant John Strand were in the Capitol building for around 30 minutes on Jan. 6. They entered around 2:30 p.m., as the riotous crowd of Donald Trump supporters overran police and swarmed the building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden‘s win in the 2020 presidential election.
While inside Statuary Hall, prosecutors say, Gold gave a speech opposing vaccine mandates and government-imposed lockdowns. Video of Gold’s speech shows police trying to get her and others to leave.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Gold said that her experience in the Capitol building was “most emphatically” not a riot, and that it was “incredibly peaceful.” However, she told the Post that she worried that her participation in the siege could distract from her activist work with America’s Frontline Doctors, and that she regretted being there.
On Thursday morning, Gold pleaded guilty to one count of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, a misdemeanor.
The charge carries a potential penalty of up to one year in jail.
At the hearing before U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, Gold confirmed that under the plea agreement, she will cooperate with the government investigation. Specifically, the plea agreement calls for Gold to provide information as to her behavior, statements, and social media postings “in and around” Jan. 6, and to sit for an interview with investigators prior to sentencing. She will also pay $500 in restitution.
America’s Frontline Doctors, registered in Arizona under the name Free Speech Foundation, is a collection of medical practitioners who gained notoriety a few months into the coronavirus pandemic for pushing unproven treatments for Covid-19 and opposing government action to stem the spread of the virus. In May of 2020, Gold published an open letter to Trump in which she called shutdowns a “a mass casualty incident” and pushed hydroxychloroquine as a way to treat coronavirus. Its parent foundation did officially form until June of that year, according to state records.
In October, the group was targeted in an investigation by a House committee investigating “online entities pushing coronavirus misinformation and selling unproven treatments.”
According to the committee, America’s Frontline Doctors and another group, SpeakWithAnMD.com, allegedly received more than $6.7 million for “facilitating paid telehealth consultations and off-label prescriptions for the purported coronavirus treatments that they promote online,” including drugs like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Charities are required to file tax records publicly, but none have been released by press time.
“The Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institutes of Health have cautioned that these drugs are not effective in preventing or treating coronavirus and can cause severe illness,” the committee said.
In a speech on Jan. 5 at D.C.’s Freedom Plaza, Gold told a group of Trump supporters that the coronavirus vaccine was an “experimental, biological agent deceptively named a vaccine,” the Post story said.
Gold told the Post that she came to Washington to attend a “Rally for Health Freedom” at the Capitol on Jan. 6. She and others were expected to speak around 1:00 p.m., after Trump addressed supporters at his “Stop the Steal” rally. However, she told the Post that someone in the crowd told her that all speeches were cancelled.
She said she then joined the crowd and followed other people into the building, the Post reported.
Cooper, a Barack Obama appointee, set Gold’s sentencing hearing for June 16.
[Image via FBI court filing.]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]