America's Frontline Doctors' Simone Gold Gets Prison Time | MedPage Today

2022-06-18 20:03:46 By : Ms. Ying Wang

by Cheryl Clark, Contributing Writer, MedPage Today June 16, 2022

America's Frontline Doctors (AFLD) founder Simone Gold, MD, JD, was sentenced Thursday to serve 60 days in prison followed by 1 year of supervised release for her participation in last year's January 6 insurrection in which she trespassed and refused to leave the U.S. Capitol building.

She also must pay a fine of $9,500 and another $500 to the Capitol architect to compensate for damage the rioters did to the building.

As he issued the penalty for one count of trespassing, a misdemeanor, U.S. District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper said that he did not believe Gold was remorseful, as she testified she was. He said he found it "unseemly" that she and her website, America's Frontline Doctors, raised some $433,000 from supporters by claiming the court's charges against her were politically motivated.

"Sitting here today, I don't think you have truly accepted responsibility," he told her. "Your organization has used your notoriety to raise money to garner support for you in connection with the sentencing and for its general operations by mischaracterizing what this proceeding is all about ... telling your supporters that this is a political prosecution of a law-abiding physician that's designed to threaten and intimidate any American who dares to exercise their First Amendment rights."

The judge also disputed Gold's contention that she was just a peaceful bystander during the riots.

"It is obvious from the video that we watched today that you were part of an angry and aggressive, I would say mob, crowd of people intent on getting past law enforcement and entering the East Rotunda through those doors," he said.

"Regardless of how the door got opened, the police were obviously trying to keep people out."

Cooper also expressed skepticism of Gold's claim that she did not see an injured Capitol police officer wedged in a door right in front of her.

"As a police officer there was pulled to the ground right in front of you, I find it implausible that you didn't see that," he said. "And you used that as an opportunity to get into the building. In the chaos and the broken glass, in the presence of multiple police officers, it is obvious that you knew it was a very dangerous and potentially violent situation as you went in."

The U.S. attorney prosecuting the case against Gold, April Ayers-Perez, said the situation was made even worse "by the fact that [Gold] is a medical doctor. She does not stop. She does not help others in the mob help this officer who is in distress."

Gold remained in the building even though at least six officers told her to leave, even after giving two speeches, which "diverted them from doing more important things than dealing with you," Cooper said.

The judge reiterated some of Gold's arguments in her defense about the way in which she was too aggressively arrested in her California home and apparently put on a no-fly list because of an accusation that she had been or would be charged with treason, and that she had lost her job and had to move to Naples, Florida because of pressures from California investigators.

"But what I haven't heard is anything about the five people who died that day. Of the four people who committed suicide because of the trauma that they suffered that day at the hands of the mob. Or the members of Congress or the 20-year-old or 25-year-old staffers who were behind those doors when chaos was breaking out all around them and not knowing whether they would be able to go home with their families."

Cooper told Gold she is "obviously very bright and professionally accomplished, and clearly take great pride in that as you rightfully should." But, he said, that actually counted against her "because you should have known what you were doing." You're unlike many of the other defendants I see who were misled or hoodwinked into coming to D.C. that day," he said. "I think you well knew what you were doing."

When Cooper asked Gold if there was anything she'd like to say, she said she was "shocked that the government thinks I'm not remorseful. I did everything within my power, as I perceived it, to show that I regretted being inside the Capitol."

She noted that she became an emergency room doctor to help people. And as an imperfect woman who is Jewish, she said, she knows that the "only thing that matters is love and being good to people."

"I did not intend to become involved in a situation that is so destructive to our nation," she said.

One concern that may have weighted the court's decision to send Gold to prison was the allegation from prosecutors that when Gold moved to Florida and was obligated to provide her residential address, she instead gave the address of a UPS office. Her attorney said Gold willingly provided the address when told it was wrong.

In an unusual effort to provide more evidence against Gold, Medical Board of California president Kristina Lawson, an attorney, submitted a four-page letter to the court saying that Gold "is dangerous and must be stopped."

Lawson recounted how she was the target of a confrontation first at her home and later in her law firm's parking garage by members of Gold's group, AFLD, last December, which "terrified" her. Later, she wrote, she learned that the confrontation was to be used in a video entitled "Lawson's Hunt," which "dangerously and falsely implied that I have committed crimes against my fellow citizens" and "dangerously and falsely accuses me of crimes, corruption, tyranny, and lying to the public."

Lawson also maintains in the letter that she continues to receive threatening emails accusing her of corruption, alleging that board investigators attack doctors who prescribe the disproven COVID treatment hydroxychloroquine and threaten to revoke the licenses of physicians who prescribe it.

Gold has a California license to practice medicine from the board, but remarks made during the sentencing hearing acknowledged she is under investigation by the board.

Gold's attorney, Kira Anne West, said the board is trying to revoke Gold's medical license for doing something that does not have to do with patient care and that a bill now being circulated within the California legislature is an attempt to do just that. West said Gold's name specifically was mentioned by lawmakers during debates about that bill as the reason the medical board needs more power to act. That bill has been amended so that it only gives the medical board power to act in cases where a physician is proven to be giving out disinformation about COVID in a setting of patient care.

Cheryl Clark has been a medical & science journalist for more than three decades.

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