Facing prison time and dire personal consequences for, some Jan. 6 defendants are trying to profit from their participation in the deadly riot, using it as a platform to drum up cash, promote business endeavors and boost social media profiles.
A Nevada man jailed on riot charges asked his mother to contact publishers for a book he was writing about “the Capitol incident.” A rioter from Washington state helped his father hawk clothes and other merchandise bearing slogans such as “Our House” and images of the Capitol building. A Virginia man released a rap album with riot-themed songs and a cover photograph of him sitting on a police vehicle outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Those actions are sometimes complicating matters for defendants when they face judges at sentencing as prosecutors point to the profit-chasing activities in seeking tougher punishments. The Justice Department, in some instances, is trying to claw back money that rioters have made off the insurrection.
In one case, federal authorities have seized tens of thousands of dollars from a defendant who sold his footage from Jan. 6. In another case, a Florida man’s plea deal allows the U.S. government to collect profits from any book he gets published over the next five years. And prosecutors want a Maine man who raised more than $20,000 from supporters to surrender some of the money because a taxpayer-funded public defender is representing him.
Many rioters have paid a steep personal price for their actions on Jan. 6. At sentencing, rioters often ask for leniency on the grounds that they already have experienced severe consequences for their crimes.
They lost jobs or entire careers. Marriages fell apart. Friends and relatives shunned them or even reported them to the FBI. Strangers have sent them hate mail and online threats. And they have racked up expensive legal bills to defend themselves against federal charges ranging from misdemeanors to serious felonies.
Websites and crowdfunding platforms set up to collect donations for Capitol riot defendants try to portray them as mistreated patriots or even political prisoners.
An anti-vaccine medical doctor who pleaded guilty to illegally entering the Capitol founded a nonprofit that raised more than $430,000 for her legal expenses. The fundraising appeal by Dr. Simone Gold’s group, America’s Frontline Doctors, didn’t mention her guilty plea, prosecutors noted.
Jose Luis Magana / AP
Before sentencing Gold to two months behind bars, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper called it “unseemly” that her nonprofit invoked the Capitol …….