Capitol rioter who berated a judge and insulted a prosecutor is sentenced to 3 months in jail
Nov 21, 2023, 12:11 PM
(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) — A New York massage therapist who joined the mob of Trump supporters attacking the U.S. Capitol was sentenced on Tuesday to three months in jail, capping a case in which he skipped court hearings, profanely insulted a prosecutor and berated the judge who punished him.
Frank Rocco Giustino pleaded guilty in February to a misdemeanor charge related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. But he was arrested last month after failing to appear in court for an earlier sentencing hearing.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg told Giustino that he seemed to have no remorse for his conduct on Jan. 6 or any respect for the court’s authority.
“Your behavior from the moment of the (guilty) plea until sentencing has been about the worst of any January 6th defendant I’ve had,” the judge said.
Giustino said he condemns the violence at the Capitol and didn’t intend to be disrespectful.
“I just want to go home,” said Giustino, who will remain in custody for approximately two more months.
The judge sentenced Giustino to 90 days of imprisonment with credit for the roughly 30 days that he has remained in custody while awaiting sentencing.
Prosecutors recommended a sentence of four months of incarceration. They initially asked for a 21-day sentence, but they sought a longer term of imprisonment after Giustino disrupted a June 23 court hearing with defiant outbursts.
During the June hearing, Giustino derided his case as “an absolute clown show of a prosecution.” He told the judge that he fired his lawyer and wanted to represent himself. He also used language that appeared to comport with the sovereign citizen extremist movement’s belief that the U.S. government is illegitimate.
“We’re not doing any sentencing date,” he said, according to a transcript. “Have you guys heard anything that I have said? Have you seen anything that I have filed? This is not a real court. There is not a single judicial officer here presiding on my case.”
The judge told Giustino to act in a “civilized fashion” and said he would issue a warrant for his arrest if he didn’t show up in court for his sentencing.
“Why don’t I issue a warrant for your arrest? I think the U.S. marshal should come after you, not me,” Giustino told the judge, punctuating his rant with expletives directed at a prosecutor.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Collyer said Giustino sent him an email on Sept. 5 in which he referred to his prosecution as the “very definition of terrorism,” said he would appear in court only as a “courtesy” and demanded the dismissal of his case along with an apology.
“The defendant’s behavior has been disrespectful and belittling, to put it mildly,” Collyer told the judge.
Giustino pleaded guilty in February to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of six months of incarceration. More than 400 other Jan. 6 rioters have pleaded guilty to the same charge.
Giustino failed to appear in court twice after he pleaded guilty, missing a status conference in June and a sentencing hearing in September. The judge issued a warrant for Giustino’s arrest after he skipped his sentencing. He was arrested in Florida in October.
Giustino initially was arrested on Capitol riot charges in January 2022. Before the riot, Giustino frequently posted on Facebook about conspiracy theories that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump, the Republican incumbent.
He took a bus from his home on New York’s Long Island to Washington, D.C., to attend Trump’s rally near the White House on Jan. 6. He joined the crowd walking to the Capitol, where rioters disrupted the joint session of Congress for certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Trump.
Giustino entered the Capitol through a door roughly three minutes after other rioters broke it open.
“Before Giustino made the decision to approach the door, he posted on social media that police were using tear gas against him and the other rioters, condescendingly calling law enforcement ‘civil servants,’ an affront to the hundreds of officers injured that day protecting democracy,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
Giustino was in the Capitol’s Crypt when rioters overwhelmed a line of police officers. He joined other rioters in a chant inside the Rotunda. He spent about 35 minutes in the Capitol before leaving.
Approximately 1,200 people have been 22 years.