Capitol photos, videos lead to California doctor’s arrest
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Beverly Hills doctor who has criticized the coronavirus vaccine was arrested Monday in connection with her alleged role storming the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, authorities said.
Simone Gold, 55, is facing charges of entering a restricted building or grounds, violent entry and disorderly conduct, records show. She is expected to appear in court in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Attempts to reach her attorney to speak on her behalf were unsuccessful.
Gold, an outspoken advocate for the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, told The Washington Post she had gone to the Capitol and is the person depicted in police bulletins carrying a bullhorn on the Capitol grounds.
She claimed she did not witness any violence during the Capitol’s siege, in an attack where dozens were hurt and one Capitol police officer later died of his injuries. Gold told the newspaper she was concerned that the photos of her inside the Capitol would distract from her health advocacy work.
“I do regret being there,” Gold said.
Investigators received tips about Gold’s presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, including photographs and videos, according to court filings. A CNN video shows a woman who appears to be Gold walking through the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, while another recording shows her giving a speech to a small group of people, court documents allege.
Gold wrote an open letter in May to President Donald Trump, calling the coronavirus shutdowns “a mass casualty incident.” She has touted hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that Trump said he took because he believes it can prevent COVID-19 even though his own administration has warned it can have deadly side effects. Gold has said she has prescribed the drug to some of her patients with good results.
America’s Frontline Doctors, a group she founded, in July spoke outside the U.S. Supreme Court to criticize the pandemic lockdowns. The group has been widely discredited for spreading disinformation about the coronavirus and unproven treatments, and social media platforms have removed its content.
John Strand, the group’s communications director, was also arrested Monday on federal charges relating to the insurrection, as was Gina Bisignano, a pro-Trump activist who has been organizing weekly protests in Beverly Hills in support of the president.
In Northern California, a Sacramento-area woman faces misdemeanor charges related to the siege of the U.S. Capitol building. Valerie Elaine Ehrke is charged in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., with entering a restricted building without lawful authority and disorderly conduct, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
An anonymous phone call on Jan. 7 tipped the FBI that Ehrke “had posted a video to Facebook of her inside the U.S. Capitol building,” according to an court documents.
“A check of the public Facebook page belonging to Ehrke with the display name ‘Valerie Elaine Ehrke’ showed a video posted on January 6, 2021, at 2:09 p.m.,” an affidavit from FBI special Agent Michael B. Miller says. “The video showed a group of people entering the U.S. Capitol building with a caption reading, ‘We made it inside, right before they shoved us all out. I took off when I felt pepper spray in my throat! Lol.’ ”
Ehrke was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday. An attorney for Ehrke could not be found, and she could not be reached for comment.