The founder of “America’s Frontline Doctors” — the controversial group that has vocally opposed the Covid-19 vaccine and public health efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus — has been sentenced to 60 days in jail for joining the mob and breaching the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Simone Melissa Gold, who was seen speaking through a bullhorn inside the Capitol Rotunda while standing on a statue of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower, will spend 2 months behind bars and one year on probation.
She pleaded guilty in March to a single count of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, a misdemeanor charge that carries a potential one-year jail sentence. Gold’s plea agreement had contemplated a sentence of up to six months based on multiple factors, including her acceptance of the guilty plea and her lack of criminal history.
Prosecutors had requested a sentence of 90 days in jail, one year of supervised release, and 60 hours of community service. Gold had asked for time served — ostensibly the two days she spent in custody after her arrest in late January of 2021 — one year of probation, and 60 hours of community service.
The federal probation office had requested a significantly longer sentence than prosecutors, asking Cooper to send Gold away for six months. U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper declined to do this, although he did tack on a $9,500 fine, as recommended by probation.
“She Does Not Stop. She Does Not Help.”
Prosecutors say that Gold, who is an emergency physician and graduate of Stanford Law School, did not offer aid during a confrontation with police outside the East Rotunda doors at the Capitol that day.
“There is a giant mob at that point outside the Capitol and very few Capitol Police officers to guard that door,” Assistant U.S. Attorney April Ayers-Perez said at Thursday’s sentencing hearing, describing an accompanying video. “[Co-defendant John Strand] and Ms. Gold are right at the front of that mob. There is one police officer. You see this Capitol Police officer wedged against the East Rotunda door, which has already had a window broken out. He is in distress. He is pulled away from the door. He is pulled to the ground. And defendant Gold is standing there when it happened.”
Strand, Gold’s boyfriend, has also been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot. He has apparently rejected the government’s plea offer and is set to start trial in July.
Gold’s inaction at the Rotunda doors, Ayers-Perez said, was “made worse by the fact that she is a medical doctor. She does not stop. She does not help.”
Ayers-Perez said that Gold and Strand “used this as an opportunity to move forward in the mob,” adding that they were among the first through the doors.
Gold spent nearly 50 minutes inside the Capitol, ultimately squaring off against police as she gave a speech inside the Rotunda expressing her opposition to vaccine mandates and Covid-19 lockdowns. Days later, in an interview with the Washington Post, Gold said that she regretted entering the Capitol but that her time there was “incredibly peaceful.”
Prosecutors say that the America’s Frontline Doctors website has raised more than $430,000, allegedly for Gold’s legal defense. The website describes the case against Gold as a “political persecution of a law-abiding emergency physician” that is “designed to threaten and intimidate any American who dares to exercise their 1st Amendment rights.”
The website also says that any leftover money raised will go to the organization’s “life-saving mission,” which the government says includes Gold’s $20,000 monthly salary.
Ayers-Perez says that Gold’s post-Jan. 6 comments, as well as her organization’s fundraising efforts, are evidence of the defendant’s lack of remorse.
“Simone Gold didn’t have the First Amendment right to go inside the Capitol and do what she did that day, and she still does not understand that, Your Honor,” Ayers-Perez told Cooper. “All of her talk about remorse is not shown in her actions.”
Gold’s lawyer, Dickson Young, said that his client didn’t see the Capitol Police officer get pulled down to the ground, and that her actions that day were, essentially, harmless.
“She didn’t incite anybody,” Young said. “She didn’t incite anybody in the crowd. Her speech wasn’t about ‘Stop the Steal.’ It was about mask mandates and vaccine mandates, which were of concern to her and the organization where she works.”
Cooper, a Barack Obama appointee, disagreed.
“You were not simply a casual bystander,” Cooper said to Gold. He also told her that he found it “implausible” that she didn’t see the officer get taken down by the mob.
“You Well Knew What You Were Doing.”
For her part, Gold expressed surprise that prosecutors would say she was anything other than sorry.
“I’m shocked that the government doesn’t think I’m remorseful,” Gold said. “I’ve done everything in my power, as I perceive it, to show I regretted being inside the Capitol.”
Gold said that she has been “silent” since Jan. 6, and that in doing so, “shown the court great respect.”
“I try to do my best to help people in every situation,” said Gold. “I became an emergency doctor and I’m grateful because it means I can help people in a variety of situations.”
Gold insisted that she wasn’t part of the so-called “Stop the Steal” crowd that stormed the Capitol in an effort to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s electoral win.
“I did not intend to become involved in a situation that is so destructive to our nation,” she said. “It’s the opposite of who I am.”
Gold sounded emotional as she made her statement, but Cooper was unmoved.
“Sitting here today, I don’t think that you have truly accepted responsibility,” Cooper said.
“I’ve read your statements, I’ve heard you here today, I’ve heard a lot about the manner in which you were arrested, about how this is a political prosecution, about how you lost your job,” Cooper told Gold. “What I haven’t heard is about the five people who died that day. The four people who committed suicide because of the trauma they suffered that day because of the mob. The congressional staffers [in their 20s] who were behind closed doors as chaos was breaking out all around them — they didn’t know if they would go home to their families. I haven’t heard about that.”
Cooper said the fact that Gold has an extensive education means that she should have known better.
“You should have known what you were doing,” Cooper said. “I think you did know what you were doing. You’re unlike a lot of other defendants before me, who were misled and hoodwinked into coming to D.C. that day, and have paid the price for that.”
“I think you well knew what you were doing,” Cooper in essence repeated.
Cooper also signaled a deep disapproval in the fundraising efforts by Gold’s organization.
“I find it unseemly that your organization is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for its operations, including your salary, based on your participation in Jan. 6,” Cooper told Gold shortly after he issued the sentence. “I think that is a real disservice to the true victims of that day.”
Pursuant to the plea agreement, Gold will pay $500 in restitution toward the estimated $2.7 million in damage to the Capitol. Cooper said that he would allow Gold to self-surrender to a facility to be determined by the Bureau of Prisons.
Strand’s trial is set to commence in July.
[Images via FBI court filings.]
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