By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN | The Associated Press
A Beverly Hills doctor who is a leading figure in the anti-vaccine movement was sentenced Thursday to two months in prison for storming the US Capitol, where she gave speeches to rioters during the mob’s attack.
US District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington, DC, sentenced Dr. Simone Gold also received 12 months of supervised release after serving 60 days in prison and was fined $9,500. She can report to the prison at a time to be determined.
Gold, a former emergency room physician, said she deeply regrets entering the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021 riots and has no intention of becoming involved in an event that was “so destructive to our nation ” be.
“It’s the opposite of who I am,” she told Cooper.
Gold founded America’s Frontline Doctors. a group known for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. The Beverly Hills-based doctor, a graduate of Stanford Law School, has over 480,000 followers on Twitter. She has condemned COVID-19 lockdowns and promoted the use of unproven and potentially dangerous drugs as coronavirus treatments.
The judge told Gold that her anti-vaccine activism was not a factor in her sentencing. Cooper said Gold was not a “casual viewer” on Jan. 6.
The judge also said Gold’s organization misled supporters into believing her prosecution was politically motivated and trampled on their right to free speech. Cooper called it “unbecoming” for America’s Frontline Doctors to invoke the Capitol riot to raise money, including for their salaries.
“I think that’s a real disservice to the real victims of the day,” he said.
Gold pleaded guilty in March to entering and staying in a restricted building, an offense carrying a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
More than 800 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riots. Over 300 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor charges, and almost 200 have been convicted.
After the riot, Gold told the Washington Post that she followed a crowd into the Capitol, saw no violence, and did not believe she was breaking any law.
“I can certainly speak to the place I was in and it clearly wasn’t a riot,” she said. “It was incredibly peaceful where I was.”
But prosecutors say she entered the Capitol immediately after a police officer was attacked and dragged to the ground in front of her. Gold also joined a mob that tried to break into the chamber of the house and later ignored orders from police to leave Statuary Hall so she could finish her speech, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors had recommended 90 days in prison, a year’s supervised release and 60 hours of community service for Gold.
Gold spent two days in jail following her arrest in January 2021. Her lawyers had asked for a served sentence and 60 hours of community service. Gold agreed to pay $500 in restitution.
Prosecutors said Gold showed no remorse or accepted responsibility for her actions. They accused her of trying to profit from her crime and said America’s Frontline Doctors raised more than $430,000 for her legal expenses through her website.
“It’s hard to believe that Gold could have incurred nearly $430,000 in costs for her criminal defense when she pleaded guilty — in the face of undeniable, easily identifiable evidence — without filing a single motion,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing .
Defense attorney Dickson Young said Gold paid her attorneys “out of pocket.” Young said America’s Frontline Doctors kept the donated money for themselves.
Gold told the Post she traveled to Washington to speak at a “health freedom rally” on the afternoon of Jan. 6 on the east side of the Capitol.
Gold was charged with John Strand, communications director for America’s Frontline Doctors. Prosecutors also described him as Gold’s friend.
Strand has again pleaded not guilty to the charges and has a trial scheduled to begin July 18. Prosecutors say Strand turned down her offer of a settlement.
Strand filmed as Gold gave a speech at Statuary Hall about her opposition to coronavirus vaccine mandates and government-imposed lockdowns. After police escorted her out of Statuary Hall, Gold gave another speech in the rotunda using a megaphone while standing atop a statue of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Gold and Strand spent almost an hour in the Capitol before leaving.
The Medical Board of California database shows that gold remains licensed for the practice of medicine in the state. However, Gold’s lawyers say the board sent her a letter threatening to have her medical license revoked over “a case of misinformation.”
“My reputation has been completely destroyed,” Gold said on Thursday.
Gold moved from California to Naples, Florida after her arrest. Defense attorney Kira West said Gold received threats and traveled with a bodyguard.