WASHINGTON (AP) – A California doctor known as a leading provider of coronavirus disinformation has pleaded guilty on Thursday to joining a mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last year.
Dr Simon Gold, founder of the anti-vaccine group America’s Frontline Doctors, has pleaded guilty to entering and staying in a prohibited building or area. The maximum penalty for conviction is up to six months in prison.
As part of her guilty plea, Gold admitted that she and her co-defendant John Strand, while outside the building, were directly in front of a police officer who was attacked and dragged to the ground. The doctor also admitted to entering the building and giving a speech at the Statuary Hall about her opposition to the coronavirus vaccine mandates and blockades imposed by the government when Strand was filming her comments.
Gold, 56, of Beverly Hills later told The Washington Post that she followed the crowd to the Capitol, witnessed no violence and did not think she was breaking any laws.
“Of course I can talk to where I was, and it wasn’t a riot,” she said. “Where I was, it was incredibly calm.”
Gold, which has more than 400,000 Twitter subscribers, is an outspoken figure in the U.S. vaccine movement and is known for spreading misinformation about COVID-19. She promoted the use of untested and potentially dangerous drugs, including ivermectin against worms and hydroxychloroquine against malaria, as a treatment for coronavirus.
Dr Irwin Redlener, founding director of Columbia University’s National Disaster Preparedness Center, said Gold played a “major role” in the vaccine advocacy movement, using his medical records and platform to “undermine science” and pollute efforts. reducing the pandemic.
“In a way, her extremist voice seems to have a greater impact than the vast majority of doctors who say, ‘Of course you need to get vaccinated.’ It will save your life, ”Redlener said.
MP James Clayburn, a Democrat from South Carolina who chairs a special subcommittee of the House of Representatives on the coronavirus crisis, announced in October that the group would investigate online groups that spread misinformation about COVID-19 and promote potentially dangerous treatments. In a letter addressed to Gold, Clayburn cites reports that her group and her partners have made millions of dollars in revenue by selling hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin and offering online advice on COVID-19.
“Although (America’s Frontline Doctors) is not the only one to provide these services, it is reported to be a major provider of questionable treatments across the country and is a notable source of coronavirus-related misinformation,” Kleiburn wrote.
Gold told The Post that she traveled to Washington to speak at a “health freedom rally” on the east side of the Capitol on the afternoon of January 6, 2021. She said she was worried that her photos at the Capitol would distract from her advocacy work.
“I’m sorry I was there,” she said less than a week after the siege.
The California Medical Council database shows that Gold still has a license to practice medicine in the state and has an office address in Beverly Hills.
Strand, communications director of Frontline Doctors of America, told the Post that he was in the Capitol to help Gold and “ensure her safety.” He again pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. The trial over Strand is scheduled to begin on July 18.
Gold is scheduled to be sentenced on June 16.
More than 750 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riots. More than 220 of them pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, more than 100 defendants were convicted. ___
Associated Press writer Jacques Bilo of Phoenix contributed to this report.