Feds Are Targeting Donations

According to a report in the Associated Press, court records show that prosecutors in over 1,000 January 6 criminal cases are asking judges to impose fines as well as prison time to offset the large donations received by the Capitol rioters.

Many of those facing charges for their role in the January 6 riot have set up online fundraising efforts to raise money for legal fees, primarily with the GoFundMe alternative, GiveSendGo. While prosecutors concede that there is nothing wrong with soliciting funds to pay for lawyers, in some cases, the DOJ is questioning where the money is actually going since many of the defendants have public defenders.

One defendant, Markus Maly of Virginia, is scheduled to be sentenced in June for assaulting police during the riot. He raised over $16,000 in an online campaign asking for money for his family. Prosecutors have asked for the judge to fine Maly $16,000+, noting that he is being represented by a public defender and does not owe legal fees.

So far this year, prosecutors in Jan 6 cases have sought over $390,000 in fines, anywhere from $450 to over $71,000, against at least 21 defendants, the Associated Press found.

In those cases, the judges imposed fines of at least $124,127 against 33 defendants.

In 2021 and 2022, judges in Jan 6 cases ordered over 100 defendants to collectively pay more than $240,000 in fines.

Additionally, judges have ordered hundreds of defendants convicted in the Capitol riot to pay over $524,000 in restitution to cover the cost of damages to the Capitol and other riot-related expenses, which are estimated to be $2.8 million.

The defendants with the most serious charges with long prison terms are now facing sentencing. These defendants also tend to be the most prolific online fundraisers, which, according to the Associated Press, could explain why there has been a recent surge in fine requests from prosecutors.

Attorney William Shipley, who has represented over two dozen January 6 defendants, told the Associated Press that he advises his clients to avoid online fundraising under the claim of being a political prisoner unless they plan to plead guilty.

Just over 500 people have been sentenced for their role in the January 6 riot.