A plea hearing for Anthime Gionet quickly went off the rails Wednesday when the far-right video blogger, who was scheduled to plead guilty to participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection riot, suddenly declared he was innocent.
Gionet, better known online as Baked Alaska, was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct after allegedly livestreaming himself storming the Capitol while calling a cop a “fucking oath breaker” and “piece of shit.”
“Occupy the Capitol, let’s go. We ain’t leaving this bitch,” he said in the livestream, which was later used against him by the FBI.
Gionet was scheduled to plead guilty in D.C. federal court Wednesday to a misdemeanor of unlawful picketing or parading in the Capitol but when Judge Emmett Sullivan asked Gionet why he wished to plead guilty, he blurted out: “I wanted to go to trial but the prosecutor said if I didn’t go to trial they would put a felony on me so I think this is probably the better route. I believe I’m innocent.”
Sullivan replied that he “can’t take a plea of guilty if you say you’re innocent” and urged Gionet’s lawyers to pick a trial date.
“I’m never going to force anyone to plead guilty if they’re not guilty,” Sullivan said, telling Gionet that if he wants a fair trial “you’ll get a fair trial.”
Gionet asked Sullivan if it was fair for the government to threaten him with a felony, to which Sullivan said that was a matter for his lawyers.
Federal prosecutors denied that they threatened to add a felony but said they would continue investigating Gionet if he pleaded not guilty, and they may or may not file superseding charges at a later date.
After defense attorneys and prosecutors spoke briefly in private, Sullivan set a trial date for March 7, 2023. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Ann Aloi also the feds would keep the plea offer open for 60 days in case Gionet changes his mind.
“Thank you for the additional time, I appreciate it,” Gionet told Sullivan.
“Sure, these things happen,” the judge replied. “I wasn’t born yesterday.”
If Gionet had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, he most likely would have been sentenced to probation or a short prison sentence. But his unexpected about-face means he’ll spend more time outside prison on pretrial release.
That pretrial release has already landed him in hot water. As part of the conditions, Gionet must notify the court if he changes his home address but a pre-trial services officer told a judge in October that Gionet had left home in Arizona and moved to Clearwater, Florida without telling anyone.
Officers said they only found out when Gionet had a run-in with local law enforcement over someone apparently throwing cans at his house. Months earlier, his release conditions were tightened over a series of run-ins he had with Arizona police.
A judge declined to revoke his release. Then a month later, Gionet was charged with defacing a Hanukkah display at the Arizona state capitol.
He was also sentenced to 30 days in jail in January for assaulting a bouncer in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2020 but is appealing it.
Gionet successfully applied to have his court-mandated GPS monitor removed two months after the Capitol riot after insisting he loves law enforcement and has led an “exemplary life” with a “Christian upbringing.”