The U.S. Department of Justice is attempting to “claw back” donation funds from January 6 defendants and prisoners. According to a review of court records conducted by the Associated Press, prosecutors are increasingly asking judges to impose fines on top of harsh prison sentences in order to offset any donations.
Dozens of defendants have set up legal defense funds or other ventures in order to raise awareness on their cases. Conservatives have commonly referred to the January 6 defendants as “political prisoners” due to comparatively harsh sentences issued to them when compared to left-wing rioters from 2020. More than two years after the Capitol protests in 2021, U.S. prosecutors have brought charges against more than 1,000 January 6 defendants, resulting in more than 300 prison sentences extending up to 18 years.
In 2020, 95% of Black Lives Matter rioters had all charges against them dropped by prosecutors across the nation. Many accused of more serious offenses such as assaulting police officers, had their legal bill pays by defense funds endorsed by celebrities and the current vice president, Kamala Harris.
Many January 6 defendants have used online fundraisers to collect money for their legal defenses.
The government is seeking fines at sentencing that confiscate this money when the cases conclude. https://t.co/2GPy0GwZ8g
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) May 28, 2023
The Associated Press cited the case of Texas resident Daniel Goodwyn, who appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program and asked supporters to donate to legal defense funds of “political prisoners.” The Justice Department now wants Goodwyn to hand over $25,000 in order to prevent him from “profiting” off the “attack that shook the foundations of American democracy,” per the AP.
The outlet also referenced the case of Markus Maly, a Virginia man scheduled to be sentenced next month. Prosecutors have requested a $16,000+ fine in order to offset donations to a legal defense fund set up by his family. “He should not be able to use his own notoriety gained in the commission of his crimes to ‘capitalize’ on his participation in the Capitol breach in this way,” a prosecutor wrote in court papers.
To date this year, prosecutors have sought more than $390,000 in fines against at least 21 January 6 defendants, with amounts ranging from $450 to $71,000. Judges have imposed at least $124,127 in fines against 33 defendants this year. In the previous two years, judges ordered more than 100 defendants to collectively pay more than $240,000 in fines.