A far-right internet personality who streamed live video while storming the US Capitol was sentenced Tuesday to two months in prison for joining the mob attack on the building.
Anthime Gionet, known to his social media followers as “Baked Alaska,” declined to speak in court before US District Judge Trevor McFadden sentenced him to 60 days behind bars and two years probation. Gionet faced a maximum prison sentence of six months.
Gionet incriminated himself and other rioters with the video, which he streamed to a live audience of around 16,000 followers. The 27-minute video showed him encouraging other rioters to stay in the Capitol.
“You did everything you could to publicize your wrongdoing,” the judge told Gionet. “They were there and fully engaged in what was going on.”
The judge released Gionet pending a report to jail. After his sentencing, Gionet told reporters he viewed his sentence as a “victory” and said he plans to write a book while in prison.
Despite his guilty plea, Gionet said he didn’t think he broke the law on Jan. 6 and had no regrets about being there.
“I’ve grown immensely,” he said outside the courthouse. “But I still record that I was there because I believe the election was fraudulent and I believe people should have the right to speak freely as long as they are peaceful.”
In an office of Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, Gionet filmed himself picking up the phone and pretending to report “a fraudulent election,” mimicking former President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that his 2020 election had been stolen.
“We need to put our boy, Donald J. Trump, in office,” Gionet added.
President Joe Biden marked the two-year anniversary of the US Capitol riots on Friday by honoring the police officers and poll workers who were attacked by the insurgents.
Gionet sang with others: “Patriots are in control!” and “Whose house? Our house!” Before he left, he profanely called a Capitol police officer an “oathbreaker.”
Gionet, 35, pleaded guilty in July to a misdemeanor for parading, demonstrating or picketing inside a Capitol building.
Prosecutors recommended that Gionet be sentenced to 75 days in prison, three years probation and 60 hours of community service.
Gionet worked at BuzzFeed before becoming an influential figure in far-right political circles through social media videos. He was scheduled to speak at the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in 2017, before violence erupted on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia.
US District Judge Emmet Sullivan was originally scheduled to sentence Gionet. Sullivan recently retired from Gionet’s case and several others for reasons not specified in the court filings, though he accepted “senior status” and retired from full-time ministry nearly two years ago.
Gionet celebrated online as his case was reassigned to McFadden, a Trump nominee. In a live stream, Gionet hailed McFadden as “a very great judge who is a pro-Trump judge and one of the judges who found one of the guys innocent at his trial.”
McFadden acquitted a New Mexico man, Matthew Martin, of riot-related charges in April 2022 after hearing testimony in court without a jury. Martin is the only January 6 defendant who was acquitted of all charges after a trial.
More than 900 people have been charged with federal crimes related to January 6th. Almost 500 of them have pleaded guilty, mainly to misdemeanor charges, and over 350 of them have been convicted.
Federal authorities have used Gionet’s video to track other rioters, including three men from New York City. Antonio Ferrigno, Francis Connor and Anton Lunyk pleaded guilty last year and were sentenced to house arrest. Gionet’s livestream showed her in Merkley’s office.
Defense attorney Zachary Thornley argued in a court filing that Gionet “never crossed the line from protester to rioter.” Thornley described his client as “a kind of guerrilla journalist”.
“He was there to document. He does,” the attorney told the judge.
Mainstream internet platforms, including Twitter, suspended Gionet’s accounts before January 6. At the Capitol, he streamed video live through a fringe service called DLive. He told authorities viewers paid him $2,000 for his live streams on January 5 and 6.
Under Elon Musk’s ownership, Twitter has recovered accounts owned by Gionet and other far-right figures.
Gionet, who grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, was arrested less than two weeks after the Houston riot and jailed for five days. After his release, he moved from Arizona to Florida.
McFadden also ordered Gionet to pay a $2,000 fine and $500 in damages. The judge said the Jan. 6 riot was the “culmination of a petty crime” by Gionet.
Gionet was sentenced to 30 days in prison for misdemeanor stemming from an encounter in December 2020 in which authorities said he shot pepper spray at a bar employee in Scottsdale, Arizona. Gionet was also convicted of criminal damage and fined $300 for damaging a Hanukkah display outside the Arizona Capitol in December 2020.
McFadden noted that Gionet recorded his crimes to garner social media followers and money.
“This is a very disturbing appeal, sir,” the judge told him.
“Without putting him in jail, he’s not going to stop what he’s trying to do,” said Assistant US Attorney Anthony Franks.
Gionet initially refused to plead guilty during a previous January 6 indictment hearing. Sullivan refused to accept a guilty plea from Gionet in May after proclaiming his innocence at the start of a settlement hearing.
Associated Press video journalist Nathan Ellgren contributed to this report.