Jan. 6 rioter who stormed the U.S. Capitol to plead guilty, prosecutors say

Jan. 6 rioter who stormed the U.S. Capitol to plead guilty, prosecutors say

WASHINGTON - A right-wing internet personality who lived-streamed himself storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was set to plead guilty to a federal charge on Wednesday as part of a plea deal reached with federal prosecutors, but the plea deal went up in smoke after he declared himself innocent.

Anthime Joseph Gionet, also known as Baked Alaska, was due to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count in which he willfully and knowingly paraded, demonstrated and picketed inside the Capitol. Gionet was charged one day after the Capitol attack, and arrested in Jan. 2021, and was originally charged with entering and remaining on restricted grounds without lawful authority and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

The deal went out of the window at a hearing on Wednesday after Judge Emmet G. Sullivan asked Gionet whether he was guilty of pleading guilty.

I wanted to go to trial, but the prosecutors said if I went to trial, I would put a felony on me, so I think this is probably the better route, Gionet said. They're saying if I go to trial, they're going to hit me with a felony. So Sullivan said he'd set a trial date for March 2023.

If Mr. Gionet wants to go to trial, he'll get a fair trial, like anyone and everyone else who has appeared before me, regardless of the charges, Sullivan said. I'm not trying to trick you. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Ann Aloi said they would hold the plea deal open for 60 days.

Gionet had joined other supporters of former President Donald Trump as they breached the Capitol in support of Trump's attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. In previous hearings Sullivan strongly condemned the Capitol breach and pondered how many law-abiding Americans morphed into terrorists on January 6.

In a separate case, Gionet was sentenced in January 2022 to 30 days in jail in connection with the Dec. 2020 assault of a Scottsdale, Arizona bartender. He was charged last year with tearing down a Jewish group's Hanukkah display, again in December 2020.

In 2017, Gionet marched in the violent white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Gionet's mother sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack in March, trying to shield his son's communications because his son was on the family plan.

More than 285 people have been charged with aggravated murder in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, and more than 800 people have been charged. The FBI has the names of hundreds of additional Capitol rioters who have not been arrested, according to a report by NBC News. The Biden administration is seeking millions of dollars in new funds to prosecute hundreds of Jan. 6 riot cases.