Simon’s sentencing occurred in person in Washington, D.C., a rarity for Jan. 6 defendants, most of whom have appeared via videoconference due to strict COVID protocols. Simon, who told the judge he had not been vaccinated for COVID, was required to wear a mask throughout the proceeding before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell.
Through his attorney, Simon had asked for no jail time and to be sentenced to six months of house arrest and three years probation, but Howell was unconvinced. In fact, the judge seemed surprised that Simon, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct in April, hadn’t faced more serious charges.
“He got a break, and he had a good attorney,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Kent Disney said. “But he shouldn’t get a second break.”
In court filings, Simon admitted to breaching the Capitol where he recorded himself in a series of selfie videos urging the mob to march to the chambers of Congress while making profane and violent statements, often directed at Capitol police.
“This is what a tyrannical government gets treated like. We bust in this (expletive) and show ‘em who the (expletive) boss really is,” Simon said in the videos. “Gotta show these (expletive) we ain’t (expletive) around. It’s the only way to get it done. Fear! We gotta scare the (expletive) outta them.”
Simon also joined with a mob outside the Capitol to use a metal bike rack to push back police attempting to keep rioters from entering the building.
Disney said Simon’s directions to use fear as a weapon against his own government was chilling.
“What is the appropriate sentence for someone who thinks fear is the only way to get things done?” he said.
Rebecca Sheperd, Simon’s attorney, said some of what Simon can be heard saying in the recordings is vague and she said his intent wasn’t to commit violence.
“I saw it in context from beginning to end, " Howell said. “I don’t think you are going to persuade me that he didn’t know what he was doing.”
Howell several times referenced an interview Simon gave to a Maine newspaper on Jan. 12 after the riot where he bragged about breaching the Capitol and talked about showing up to counter-demonstrate against Black Lives Matter protests in several states prior to the Capitol attack. Simon was among those who participated in a chaotic day in August 2020 when far-right militia squared off against leftist counter-demonstrators in Stone Mountain.
The judge referred to the Maine article as “a victory lap” in which he showed no remorse.
The prosecution had asked for Simon to spend 10 months in prison, a year on probation and 60 hours of community service. Judge Howell said she was reluctant to send him into the community where he might further spread his beliefs.
“Why (mandate) community service for people who are vulnerable to conspiracy theories?” she said.
Shepard characterized Simon as someone who was caught up in the moment. Although she never mentioned former President Donald Trump by name, Shepard said Simon motivated by the words of the organizers and speakers at the rally prior to the riot.
Howell said “listening without question to political rhetoric” is not an adequate excuse for breaking the law.
“You’ve got to use your common sense … before just blindly doing what a political figure says,” she told Simon.
Simon is the 10th of 22 Jan. 6 defendants with Georgia ties to be sentenced in the massive federal investigation. Two others await sentencing.
So far, more than 860 people have been charged in the Capitol attack. Of those, 283 have pleaded guilty, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.