By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press
A federal magistrate on Friday refused to order house arrest for a far-right internet troll indicted in the January 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol after court officials raised concerns about his recent encounters with police officers in Arizona.
US magistrate judge G. Michael Harvey warned Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet that he had acted dangerously and that he “had almost committed crimes” when he had filmed himself arguing with a drunk friend and call the police twice. But the magistrate ultimately concluded that Gionet had not violated the conditions of his provisional release.
Gionet grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and had become well known in right-wing politics through his social media appearances.
Gionet was arrested 10 days after the riot in Washington, DC. He is charged with violent and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds and knowingly entering a restricted building without legal authorization.
After his arrest in Houston, Gionet was initially ordered to submit to electronic location monitoring, but the court lifted this condition of his release on March 31.
On January 6, Gionet broadcast a live video showing inside the Capitol and encouraging other protesters to stay. Investigators say Gionet also called an officer an “oath breaker” and chanted: “Whose house? Our house!”
His lawyer said he only went to Washington to film what happened.
The Justice Department has arrested about 465 people in nearly all 50 states – an average of about three defendants arrested each day, including weekends, since January 6. Marine Corps officer Christopher Warnagiris, the first active duty member arrested in the insurgency, was charged Thursday with nine counts, including assaulting an officer.
In Gionet’s case, an agent from the status services recommended that house arrest be imposed and that Gionet be prohibited from posting videos on social media or other video-sharing platforms. A federal prosecutor agreed with the recommendations.
Harvey rejected both recommendations, but criticized Gionet for “pushing” his friend into a fight in a moving car.
“You knew what you were doing, putting the camera in her face,” he said. “You wanted to get elevated from him, and you did.”
A video of Gionet’s contact with law enforcement in Arizona on May 26 was posted on YouTube, according to a Status Services report. Gionet apparently called police that evening to report that a friend and colleague “YouTuber” assaulted him, federal prosecutors said in a court file.
After the agents arrived, Gionet agreed to take his friend home. When the friend became belligerent in the car, Gionet called the police again and was “somewhat uncooperative” with the second group of officers who responded, prosecutors said.
“He also appears to be threatening his friend,” they wrote.
Defense lawyer Zachary Thornley said Gionet did not break any laws or violate the terms of his release.
“I really don’t know why we are all here today,” he said in a remote hearing on Friday.
“We’re all here because your client recorded it all and put it on YouTube, which a smart person might wonder if that’s what you should be doing while you’re under judicial surveillance,” retorted the magistrate.
Prosecutors say the video appears to be a way of making money for Gionet, a social media personality who was among the speakers at the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., Which erupted in violence in 2017.
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