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'Not a bystander' | Anti-vax Dr. Simone Gold sentenced to 60 days in jail in Capitol riot case

A federal judge said the $400,000 Gold raised through a legal defense fundraiser on her site was "a real disservice to the true victims."

WASHINGTON — A doctor who gained notoriety for spreading debunked claims about the COVID-19 pandemic was sentenced Thursday to 60 days in jail and a $9,500 fine for her role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Dr. Simone Gold appeared before U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper for sentencing on one misdemeanor count of entering and remaining in a restricted building. Gold, who founded America’s Frontline Doctors in 2020, spoke at an anti-vaccine rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5 and was scheduled to speak again the following day. When that speech was canceled, Gold and her boyfriend, John Herbert Strand, joined a pro-Trump mob and entered the U.S. Capitol Building.

While inside, prosecutors say, Gold can be seen in photos from the riot using a bullhorn to give a speech to other members of the mob in Statuary Hall. Other videos from the day, they say, show Strand and Gold in part of a large crowd attempting to push past multiple officers blocking the entrance to the Capitol.

Prosecutors argued in a sentencing memo that Gold should serve 90 days in jail. Among other aggravating factors, prosecutors said Gold and Strand – who has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial – should have clearly seen broken windows when they entered the building. Prosecutors said in court that Gold watched as a U.S. Capitol Police officer was violently dragged to the ground right in front of her, but did nothing.

In a move that hasn't been typical among other Jan. 6 cases, pretrial services recommended Gold be sentenced to a longer term of imprisonment – 6 months – than DOJ asked for. A probation officer explained the recommendation, saying Gold had provided a false address for a UPS store instead of her residence to pretrial services ahead of a home assessment. The probation officer also said the office considered rejecting Gold’s acceptance of responsibility altogether based on language from a fundraiser on her website mischaracterizing her case and downplaying her actions.

Gold’s attorneys, Kira Anne West and Dickson Young, argued for a probationary sentence, saying she’d already suffered a number of consequences from being charged in the case – including what West described as an arrest by 20 armed FBI agents, ongoing challenges to Gold’s medical licenses in California and Florida and threats against her. West said the latter explained the false address Gold gave pretrial services, and noted it was corrected as soon as she explained the address would not be made public.

Credit: Department of Justice
Dr. Simone Gold photographed inside Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021.

Cooper ultimately went lower than either the DOJ or pretrial services recommendations and sentenced Gold to 60 days in jail and a $9,500 fine. That’s the largest individual fine imposed by a judge in a Capitol riot case to date.

Cooper said he found Gold’s actions on Jan. 6 to be one the “lower end of the spectrum.”

“On the other hand,” he said, “you were not a bystander.”

Cooper said he found it “implausible” that Gold did not, as she’d claimed, see the officer dragged to the ground in front of her. And he said while he noted her impressive credentials, he thought they cut both ways.

“I think you well knew what you were doing,” he said.

The judge also said it was clear to him Gold had used her notoriety to raise money through her organization. Pretrial services estimated Gold’s organization, America’s Frontline Doctors, had raised more than $400,000 through a fundraiser for her legal defense. Gold’s attorneys said in court, however, that neither of them had been paid from that fund. Instead, they said, the money had all gone directly to the organization, from which Gold draws a salary.

Cooper said he’d received 30 letters from Gold’s supporters all making similar claims he believed stemmed from the mischaracterization on her fundraising page, and said the fact that she’d raised hundreds of thousands of dollars was “a real disservice to the true victims.”

In a brief statement before her sentencing, Gold said she had done “everything I can do to show I am remorseful,” including being silent about her case.

“My reputation has been shredded,” Gold said.

One thing Cooper did not factor into Gold’s sentence was a letter from Kristina Lawson, the president of the Medical Board of California. The letter was submitted to Cooper and discussed in court Thursday, but not entered into the public record. After Gold’s sentencing, WUSA9 obtained a copy of the letter.

In it, Lawson said last December a group of men had followed her on Gold’s behalf and “accosted me in a dark parking garage when they believed I was alone.” When contacted by law enforcement, Lawson wrote, the men said they were making a video about her. The video was released in March on Rumble – a platform popular on the right which is currently set to operate part of former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social Media Group – and promoted by Gold. The video includes footage of the garage confrontation with Lawson.

The video depicts Lawson at points as a Nazi. Gold, who is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, promoted the video to her more than 400,000 Twitter followers along with Lawson’s name and the words, “Her corruption is rampant.” According to Lawson’s letter, as a result of Gold’s “campaign” against her she has received “numerous threatening and offensive messages,” including some calling for her to be “prosecuted by the military, jailed and put to death.”

Lawson said in the letter she has had to hire private security to ensure the safety of herself and her three young children. The letter concludes: “She is dangerous and must be stopped.”

“We have no evidence that anything Ms. Lawson says in the letter is true,” one of Gold’s attorneys, West, told WUSA9 in an email.

Gold will remain on supervised release for 12 months after serving her 60-day sentence. Her boyfriend and co-defendant, John Strand, was scheduled to begin a jury trial in D.C. on July 18 on multiple charges, including one felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding.

We're tracking all of the arrests, charges and investigations into the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Sign up for our Capitol Breach Newsletter here so that you never miss an update.

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