Sunday, August 14 2022


A Bucks County gym owner who checked in during the Capitol storming saying she was looking for Nancy Pelosi “to shoot her in the brain” pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor on Tuesday, causing d ‘she the last Pennsylvanian to admit her role in the January 6 Riot.

Dawn Bancroft, 59, of Doylestown, told a federal judge she did not want to threaten the Speaker of the House and described her remark in hindsight as a “stupid, juvenile comment” made in the fire of the action.

Still, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan expressed concern over Bancroft’s statements and asked why prosecutors agreed to let her plead for an offense of illegally protesting, picketing or marching inside the building. Capitol Hill – which carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison – instead of pursuing more serious charges of threatening a member of Congress.

“It is very disturbing to hear that the reason [she] was on Capitol Hill on January 6 was primarily to assassinate the Speaker of the House, ”the judge said.

His remarks came on a day when two other Pennsylvania residents admitted to participating in the Jan.6 uprising. Diana Santo-Smith, 32, of Bucks County, also pleaded guilty on Tuesday, who traveled by train with Bancroft to Washington and appeared in the background of her incriminating selfie video.

READ MORE: Bucks County man is first local rioter on Capitol Hill to plead guilty. Others are on the horizon.

Sullivan eventually accepted the two women’s tort pleas despite his reservations. But he warned them that he would have much more to say about their conduct at the time of sentencing in January.

He marveled at the number of otherwise law-abiding citizens who had “turned into terrorists” that day and said he agreed with recent comments by former President George W. Bush. alluding to the Capitol riot as an act of domestic terrorism on par with the events of the September 11, 2001 attack.

“What were you thinking?” the judge asked Santos-Smith as he accepted his guilty plea. “How the hell did you get into this mess?”

Neither woman offered much explanation. But Bancroft, personal trainer, group fitness instructor and owner of CrossFit Sine Pari gym in Doylestown, said she recognizes her actions that day were bad.

“I’m guilty,” she told Sullivan. “And I will take the consequences.”

Bancroft and Santos-Smith have admitted to being among the crowd of supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the west side of Capitol Hill under scaffolding put in place in anticipation of his successor’s inauguration.

They broke into the building through an already shattered window and spent less than a minute inside, prosecutors said, before leaving.

It was while they were trying to make their way through the crowd that Bancroft filmed herself and Santos-Smith.

“We broke into the Capitol. We entered. We have done our part, ”she said. “We were looking for Nancy to shoot him in the brain. We haven’t found it, but everything is fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Murphy said his office chose not to charge Bancroft with threatening a congressman because his remarks about Pelosi’s shooting were made while she and Santos- Smith were leaving the building and there was no evidence that either was armed that day. .

Unlike many rioters who have been charged, Bancroft did not post his video on social media and instead sent it to a friend, his lawyer Carina Laguzzi said.

“Although the court is correct in saying that it is very disturbing,” she said, “it was not published and was not intended for mass distribution.”

The friend in question, Laguzzi noted, ended up transmitting the video to the FBI, which led to the arrests of Bancroft and Santos-Smith.

“Well,” Sullivan joked, “that’s what friends are for.”

Earlier Tuesday, another Pennsylvanian – a man from Lehigh Valley – also pleaded guilty to the same offense in a video conference hearing before U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich.

Jackson Kostolsky, 31, of South Whitehall Township, confessed to FBI agents in January that he was inside the building after catching him in a distinctive leopard-print vest on security video . His sentencing is scheduled for December 21.

He, Bancroft and Santos-Smith all remain free under judicial supervision.

A total of 55 Pennsylvanians were charged with participating in the riot, the highest number of any state except Texas and Florida. So far, 11 of them have pleaded guilty.


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