UNITED STATES NEWS

Internet troll faces trial after Capitol riot plea fizzles

May 11, 2022, 7:00 PM

A federal judge scheduled a trial next year for a far-right internet troll after the man, known to his social media followers as “Baked Alaska,” balked at pleading guilty on Wednesday to a criminal charge stemming from the U.S. Capitol riot.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan refused to accept a guilty plea by Anthime Gionet after he professed his innocence at the start of what was scheduled to be a plea agreement hearing. Instead, the judge set a March 2023 trial date for Gionet, who is charged with a misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing inside a Capitol building.

“If he wants a trial, he’ll get a fair trial,” Sullivan said.

After privately conferring with Gionet’s lawyers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi said prosecutors would leave the plea offer open for 60 days. The judge scheduled a July 22 status hearing for the case.

Gionet would have faced a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment if he had pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor.

During the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, Gionet streamed live video that showed himself inside the Capitol and repeatedly encouraging other rioters to stay there. He joined others in chanting, “Patriots are in control” and “Whose house? Our house!” Before leaving, he profanely called a police officer an “oathbreaker,” the FBI said.

Gionet told the judge that he wanted a trial but claimed prosecutors had threatened to “hit” him with an additional felony charge.

“So I think this is probably the better route,” he added.

“Are you pleading guilty because you’re guilty?” Sullivan asked.

“I believe I’m innocent, your honor,” Gionet replied.

“I can’t take your plea of guilty if you tell me you’re innocent,” the judge said.

Aloi said prosecutors never threatened to charge Gionet with a felony if he didn’t take the plea deal.

“We did say that the case would continue to be investigated and where the facts led is where the charges would ultimately lead,” she said.

“I accept that representation,” the judge said. “Your office has proceeded in a very honorable manner.”

Gionet’s lawyer has claimed he only went to Washington, D.C., to document what happened that day. Prosecutors disputed Gionet’s contention that he is a member of the news media.

Other riot defendants have argued that they merely went to the Capitol as journalists to document what happened on Jan. 6. Infowars host Jonathan Owen Shroyer has asked a judge to throw out his riot charges, accusing prosecutors of trampling on his First Amendment rights to “protest, speak freely and report the news.”

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 on April 28 to riot-related charges. Gionet’s livestream showed them in Sen. Jeff Merkley’s office, according to court filings accompanying their plea agreements.

Gionet was arrested in Houston less than two weeks after the riot. He has moved from Arizona to Florida since his arrest.

Gionet, who grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, used social media to build a following in far-right political circles. He became known for posting videos in which he attempts to troll or pull pranks on his targets He was scheduled to speak at the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, before it erupted in violence and bloodshed in 2017.

BuzzFeed, where Gionet once worked, reported that Twitter permanently banned him from its platform after the Charlottesville rally.

In January, 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.

More than 790 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. Over 280 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, and over 170 have been sentenced. Approximately 100 others have trial dates.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

Associated Press

What to know about Evan Gershkovich’s conviction for espionage in Russia

The trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich ended Friday with his conviction on espionage charges that he, his employer and the U.S. government have dismissed as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Here’s what we know about the secretive process. Where was the trial he ld? It took place in […]

25 minutes ago

Associated Press

Former Trump executive Allen Weisselberg released from jail after serving perjury sentence

NEW YORK (AP) — Retired Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg was released from New York City’s Rikers Island jail on Friday after serving a sentence for lying under oath, according to online records. The former chief financial officer at Donald Trump’s real estate company pleaded guilty in March to committing perjury during his testimony in […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference in Miami, on May 9, 2023. The Trea...

Associated Press

The Treasury Department warns that an anti-woke Florida banking law is a national security risk

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department is warning that state laws that restrict banks from considering environmental, social and governance factors could harm efforts to address money laundering and terrorism financing. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter sent Thursday to lawmakers. The letter singled out a law signed by Florida Gov. Ron […]

1 hour ago

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a ...

Associated Press

Long before his arrest, US reporter lamented that many friends in Russia were being locked up

In early 2022, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich wrote on social media that “reporting on Russia is now also a regular practice of watching people you know get locked away for years.” A year later, he was the one locked up — arrested in March 2023 on charges of spying that his employer and […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Accused of biting police official, NYC Council member says police were the aggressors

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City Council member accused of biting a police official complained Thursday that officers used excessive force as she strove to help someone who was lying under a barricade at a protest. Brooklyn Democrat Susan Zhuang didn’t address the biting allegation as she gave her version of the encounter, […]

2 hours ago

FILE - In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, Aviation Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Nicholas Hawkin...

Associated Press

Massachusetts lawmakers call on the Pentagon to ground the Osprey again until crash causes are fixed

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three Massachusetts lawmakers are pressing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to ground the V-22 Osprey aircraft again until the military can identify the root causes of multiple recent accidents, including a deadly crash in Japan. In a letter sent to Austin on Thursday, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and Rep. Richard […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

Internet troll faces trial after Capitol riot plea fizzles