The social-media personality known as “Baked Alaska” told a federal judge he was only pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge from being at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 because prosecutors had threatened to charge him with a felony if he didn’t take a plea deal.
Defendant Anthime Joseph Gionet, 34, told U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, “I believe I am innocent,” to which Sullivan replied, “We’ll pick a trial date.”
Gionet was on the court calendar for a plea-agreement hearing, ostensibly to plead guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, a petty misdemeanor.
The virtual online hearing went off script from its opening minute.
Judge Sullivan asked Gionet why he was pleading guilty.
Gionet replied: “I wanted to go to trial, but the prosecutors said if I didn’t (sic) go to trial, they would put a felony on me, so I think this is probably the better route.”
‘They’re Going to Hit Me With a Felony’
Judge Sullivan then asked Gionet, “Are you pleading guilty because you’re guilty?”
Gionet responded, “I believe I’m innocent.” The defendant then explained: “They say if I go to trial, they’re going to hit me with a felony.”
Sullivan told Gionet that he “can’t take a plea of guilty if you tell me you’re innocent. So let’s pick a trial date.”
Gionet then protested, “Your honor, is that a fair thing that they can threaten me with an additional charge a year and a half later?”
“You have a lawyer to speak for you, sir,” the judge cautioned.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi denied Gionet’s claim.
“The government did not say that we would charge Mr. Gionet with a felony if he did not take the plea,” she said. “We did say the case would continue to be investigated …”
Judge Sullivan said he did not believe Gionet’s claim. “Your office has proceeded in a very honorable manner, and I didn’t believe that when I heard it,” he told Aloi. “So let’s pick a trial date.”
Gionet’s trial was then scheduled for March 7, 2023. Sullivan asked Gionet’s two attorneys if they would like to confer with their client in a private break-out room. He assured defense attorneys, “If he wants to go to trial, he will get a fair trial.”
After the break-out meeting, Aloi told Sullivan the Department of Justice would hold the plea offer open for 60 days. The judge set a status hearing for July 22, but kept the 2023 trial date on the calendar.
Speaking on his live stream program on Cozy.tv several hours after the hearing, Gionet said he was not sorry the plea-agreement fell apart.
‘This is Insane’
“I didn’t know this (expletive) went on. This is insane,” he said. “This whole holding (expletive) over my head, that’s not right. If you were going to charge me with the felony, you should have done it a year and a half ago.”
Gionet was arrested on Jan. 15, 2021, and charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted building without authorization. On April 19, 2022, prosecutors added the parading, demonstrating, or picketing charge.
Prosecutors allege that Gionet did a live-stream broadcast from the Capitol in which he said, among other things, “Occupy the Capitol, let’s go,” and “we ain’t leaving this [expletive].”
He accused a law enforcement of shoving him and called an officer an “oath-breaker,” along with a sprinkling of profanity, court records allege.
On the night of Jan. 5, 2021, Gionet conducted an interview with Ray Epps, in which Epps said that protesters on Jan. 6 “need to go into the Capitol.”
There has been widespread speculation online about Epps because his photograph was removed from the FBI’s Jan. 6 most-wanted page.
Despite encouraging protesters to go inside the Capitol and being present at the first two breaches of police lines on Jan. 6, Epps has not been charged for being on restricted ground that day. Epps has denied being an informant for the FBI or law enforcement.