A Capitol riot defendant raked in thousands of dollars in donations to cover his legal fees — even though his lawyers were free, prosecutors allege
- A Capitol rioter who had a free lawyer raised $17,000 to cover his legal fees, prosecutors allege.
- Dozens of other January 6 defendants have been raising money on crowdfunding sites.
A Capitol riot defendant raked in thousands of dollars in donations to cover his legal fees — even though he had a free public lawyer, prosecutors allege.
Prosecutors allege in a sentencing memorandum that John Strand raised "more than $17,300 for his 'legal defense' without disclosing that he in fact has taxpayer-funded counsel."
Strand, an actor and romance novel cover model, was convicted last September on five charges, including violent entry and disorderly conduct for his role in breaching the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
In the court filing, prosecutors argue that Strand should pay a fine of at least $17,300 "to preclude [him] from having profited from his crimes," since he did not pay for his legal fees.
"Strand has raised, and continues to raise, money on his website based upon his false statements and misrepresentations on the events of January 6," the prosecutors allege in the filing.
An attorney for Strand, Stephen Brennwald, told Insider, "The accusation that Mr. Strand has engaged in 'grift' is completely false. Mr. Strand has raised money to pay for a lawyer to handle his appeal. If the government wishes to dismiss his case, he will not need to appeal, and will return any funds that have been given to him for an appeal."
Strand is not the only January 6 defendant who has sought to profit from their role in the Capitol riot. An Associated Press review of court records found that prosecutors have asked judges to impose hefty fines on several defendants who raised money online.
Nathaniel DeGrave — who was convicted last year of obstructing an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers — raised $120,000 to cover his legal fees, prosecutors allege in a court filing.
But that was $25,000 more than he paid his lawyers, his lawyer told the AP. He raised the money through the Christian crowdfunding platform GiveSendGo, where he described himself as "Beijing Biden's political prisoner" in "America's Gitmo," according to court filings reviewed by the AP.
A judge ordered him to pay a $25,000 fine in addition to serving over three years in prison, the AP reported.
Though a fundraising page for Maly said that the funds would go to "his family," prosecutors allege that because he has a public defender, he is seeking to profit from his crime.
A lawyer for Maly called the prosecutors' argument "absurd," and told Insider, "All of the money raised went to bills that his family owed as a direct result of his incarceration and prosecution."
Attorneys for DeGrave did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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