Facing prison time and dire personal consequences for storming the US Capitol, some January 6 defendants are trying to profit from their participation in the deadly riot, using it as a platform to drum up cash, promote business endeavours and boost social media profiles.
A Nevada man jailed on riot charges asked his mother to contact publishers for a book he was writing about “the Capitol incident.” A rioter from Washington state helped his father hawk clothes and other merchandise bearing slogans such as “Our House” and images of the Capitol building. A Virginia man released a rap album with riot-themed songs and a cover photograph of him sitting on a police vehicle outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Those actions are sometimes complicating matters for defendants when they face judges at sentencing as prosecutors point to the profit-chasing activities in seeking tougher punishments. The Justice Department, in some instances, is trying to claw back money that rioters have made off the insurrection.
In one case, federal authorities have seized tens of thousands of dollars from a defendant who sold his footage from January 6. In another case, a Florida man’s plea deal allows the US government to collect profits from any book he gets published over the next five years. And prosecutors want a Maine man who raised more than $20,000 from supporters to surrender some of the money because a taxpayer-funded public defender is representing him.
Another rioter, a New Jersey gym owner who punched a police officer during the siege, raised more than $30,000 in online donations for a “Patriot Relief Fund” to cover his mortgage payments and other monthly bills. Prosecutors cited the fund in recommending a fine for Scott Fairlamb, who is serving a prison sentence of more than three years.
A group calling itself the Patriot Freedom Project says it has raised more than $1 million in contributions and paid more than $665,000 in grants and legal fees for families of Capitol riot defendants.
Rioters have found other ways to enrich or promote themselves.
Jeremy Grace, who was sentenced to three weeks in jail for entering the Capitol, tried to profit off his participation by helping his dad sell T-shirts, baseball caps, water bottles, decals and other gear with phrases such as “Our House” and “Back the Blue” and images of the Capitol, prosecutors said.