A former Beverly Hills model and actor, who along with an anti-vaccine doctor joined in the breach of the U.S. Capitol in 2021, was sentenced this week to two years, eight months in federal prison and three years of probation for his role in the insurrection.
A federal jury in Washington, D.C. last year found John Strand guilty of a felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding, as well as several lesser counts that included entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct.
Strand, 40, was also ordered on Thursday, June 1, to pay a $10,000 fine, according to court records.
During the pandemic, Strand — a former underwear model and actor — served as a spokesman for the anti-vaccine group America’s Frontline Doctors. The organization was founded by Simone Gold, a doctor from Beverly Hills who became one of the leading sources of coronavirus misinformation.
Strand and Gold were in the crowd of thousands of Trump supporters who, following the former president’s speech, flooded the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The ensuing riot temporarily delayed Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential electoral victory.
After the mob broke through a defensive stand of police officers, prosecutors say, Strand and Gold were among those who entered the Capitol and made their way to the House Chamber. There, the crowd they were a part of faced off with another line of officers.
On their way out of the Capitol, Gold paused in Statuary Hall to give a speech about stopping the certification of the vote. The pair then moved to the Rotunda, where Gold gave a second speech criticizing COVID-19-related lockdowns.
Gold pleaded guilty to entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and was previously sentenced to 60 days in jail followed by 12 months of supervised release.
Federal prosecutors have criticized Strand’s actions, including his efforts to raise funds for his legal defense despite having a court-appointed attorney.
“On the Capitol steps, Strand took a series of selfies, made a vulgar gesture at the besieged police officers, and boasted on Twitter about having stormed the Capitol,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing brief. “Strand has since leveraged his crimes in extensive self-promotion in which he seeks money for ‘legal services,’ even as taxpayers shoulder the actual burden of his criminal defense.”
Strand has continued to deny any criminal liability. On his website — where he describes going “from Gucci to guilty” — he said prosecutors have “destroyed my life for a lie.”
Strand’s attorney, in his sentencing brief, argued that it was Gold who “insisted on going inside the Capitol,” adding that Strand “felt compelled” to follow Gold in order to protect her.
“Of the approximately 1,000 individuals who entered the United States Capitol on the afternoon of January 6, 2021, John Strand is, if culpable at all, certainly the least culpable of them all,” the defense sentencing brief read. “For unlike virtually every other person who entered the Capitol that day, his goal was not to cause violence, or even to voice displeasure at the results of the presidential election and its processes. And it was certainly not to obstruct the certification process, corruptly or otherwise.”
Strand is among more than a dozen people with Southern California ties who have been convicted for their roles in the Capitol riot. More than two dozen locals have been charged in connection to the insurrection.
Staff writer Nathaniel Percy contributed to this report.
Source: Orange County Register