Gina Bisignano: If a Plea Deal Falls on the Docket and No One Hears It …

It turns out there are a lot of things that won’t show up on a January 6 docket.

According to a motion to ditch her house arrest filed last week, Gina Bisignano — the Beverly Hills salon owner who wore a Louis Vuitton sweater to the insurrection — signed a plea deal back in July.

10. On July 28, 2021, Defendant signed a plea agreement in the above captioned case UNDER SEAL.

11. On August 4, 2021, Defendant appeared before this Court and entered a guilty plea in the above captioned case, UNDER SEAL, to multiple counts of the indictment.

Normally, when people sign plea deals under seal like this, it’s a sign of a cooperation agreement.

That wouldn’t be surprising. DOJ has been trying to charge the group of LA-area anti-vax activists who traveled to DC together in a conspiracy for most of the year. And the transcript of Danny Rodriguez’ March 31 post-arrest interview showed the FBI agents interviewing Rodriguez — who went to insurrection with Gina and others and whose alleged tasering of Michael Fanone would form the center of any conspiracy — at least pretending that she was talking with investigators, possibly even claiming that Rodriguez threatened her to keep quiet at a visit to her home.

Q. Did you talk to Gina before she got arrested?

A. Um-hmm.

Q. What’d you find out from her?

A. Nothing. I mean, we just said hi. But, I mean, we didn’t talk about anything else. I don’t really know her that well.

Q. Did you go over to her house?

A. I’ve been to her house.

Q. After January 6th, have you been to her house?

A. Yeah. I went one time, yes.

Q. With Ed?

A. No.

Q. With who?

A. Gabe. The guy who turned a rat.

Q. What do you mean?

A. The guy who’s snitching on everyone. He’s a Trump supporter, but — and he had all this — he used to always pick fights with BLM and Antifa, and we always had problems with him making us look bad, and he always wanted to get violent. And now he’s turned on us — or, me.

Q. What happened when you went with Gabe to talk to Gina?

A. It was just, like, to touch base. It was just like, hey, you know, we’re — we made it. We’re back. Everything’s okay. Are you okay? Kind of thing.

Q. What is Gabe going to say happened?

A. I don’t know. I don’t know about that guy. I mean, I haven’t had contact with him and he was really quiet. He looked like he didn’t like what happened and he was just — kind of just sit — staring at the floor a little bit or something. Like, sitting on the couch quiet. And Gina and I were talking about D.C. and he was just quiet and, I mean — and then he left and I left. We were only there for, like, 30 minutes maybe.

Q. Is there any reason why Gina would tell us that you told her not to say anything to — about you being at the Capitol?

A. Yeah. I mean —

Q. Is that what you guys talked about?

A. I guess. Yeah. I mean, like — yeah. We’re like, don’t talk about this and don’t tell anybody and —

Q. Did you threaten her?

A. No.

Q. But you told her not to say anything.

A. No, I didn’t tell her. I mean, I think it was — no. I don’t even think I told her not to say anything. I just think it was just assumed or implied that —

Q. Well, tell me what you said because I don’t want to put words in your mouth. Tell me how the conversation went.

A. I really didn’t talk to Gina too much. I mean, we were over there and just talking, and was smoking some weed on her patio. That’s it.

Q. And?

A. I didn’t threaten her or tell her any — tell her to do anything.

Q. But you guys did talk about not saying anything to the police about what happened in D.C.?

A. We weren’t even talking necessarily about not talking to the police. We were saying not to talk to — about this to anyone that we know.

Q. So just don’t tell anybody?

A. Just keep it quiet and don’t tell anybody anything and let’s try to live our lives normal, but not really, no.

Q. Okay.

[snip]

AGENT ELIAS: And then he said he met up with out there Kayla, Chris Almonte, somebody named Sauna, and Gina. And then we talked a little bit about Gina and he said that, after January 6th, he did go to Gina’s house with Gabe one time. And they did discuss not saying anything to anyone.

BY AGENT ARMENTA: Q. Okay. So you told Gina that?

A. Yeah. We were just not going to talk to — talk about it with anybody.

Q. Did you threaten her at all?

A. No. For sure, no.

Q. So she’s not going to say that?

A. I would hope not.

Q. What about —

A. No. She’s a sweet woman. I wouldn’t threaten her. And plus, what I did, why — how can I threaten? I mean, if I threaten her, she’s just going to turn me in, right? [my emphasis]

Revealing a cooperation plea deal without permission is a good way to ruin your chances to get a 5K1.1 letter, which is what the government submits to ask for a lesser sentence in exchange for substantial assistance. So it’s possible the plea deal has gone south.

Nevertheless, we should expect there are secret plea deals like this among the 650 defendants. And so I wanted to observe several things about Bisignano’s docket. Mostly, that there’s no sign of a plea deal in it. Or anything else of interest.

Bisignano was arrested on January 19 and indicted ten days later. She was in a limbo for an extended period amid COVID-related transfer delays and also a delay getting her attorney admitted to the case. On February 26, Judge Carl Nichols released her to the house arrest she’s now trying to get relaxed.

But aside from adoption of a protective order in April (that is, after the Rodriguez agents claimed that Bisignano may have already started talking) and a grand jury disclosure order in July, just days before the plea deal, the only things that have happened in the docket are repeated requests for relaxation of her release conditions, status conferences, and discovery. The only thing reported out from a September status hearing pertained to her request for a relaxation of her release conditions.

Days before Bisignano pled guilty, July 24, the prosecutor in this case, Kimberly Paschall provided a summary of the discovery provided to day (which was mostly the stuff that went into her arrest). There has been no other discovery described outside of the mass discovery status updates.

All of which is to say, there’s nothing in the docket.

I raise all this not just to say, we have no idea what this means, though we have no idea what Bisignano’s public claim to have entered into a sealed plea deal in July means. The expected conspiracy case has never been publicly filed.

But it is worth noting that DOJ has not visibly met two deadlines set by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in the Rodriguez case, to tell her whether his case will be joined with others accused of assaulting Fanone, and to explain why he hasn’t been offered a plea deal.

First of all, the Court will require the government to make its intentions plain, and therefore it is HEREBY ORDERED that any motion to join this case to any other for trial must be filed by November 5, 2021. Any motion to extend that date must be based on good cause shown, and vague references to ongoing investigations or extenuating circumstances will not suffice; if matters must be submitted to the Court under seal, the government is familiar with how to accomplish that.

Second, it is FURTHER ORDERED that the government must inform the Court by November 5, 2021 whether a plea offer has been extended in this case and if not, why not.

These filings were due — on the docket, or under seal — by Friday, but there’s nothing there.

The lesson of this post, then, is that for all the wailing that nothing is going on in the January 6 investigation, there’s likely to be a lot going on that we’re not seeing.

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26 replies
  1. Silly but True says:

    I’ve been trying to get this off my chest for while re: Jan. 6 vs. BLM. The recent M4BL review was eye-opening because a lot of it was flying under the radar (by MSM design?)

    After some initial 14,000 arrests (much of them quickly tossed at magistrate level), prosecutions of 2020 Floyd protestors is currently up up to about 370 on federal criminal charges.

    Some of M4BL’s findings on these federal criminal cases:
    * The government exploited the expansive federal criminal code in order to assert federal jurisdiction in cases that bore no federal interest. The government most frequently claimed federal jurisdiction based on alleged conduct either occur- ring on federal property or affecting property which receives federal funding, including state and local government property. This is followed closely by cases where the government bent over backwards to assert federal jurisdiction through an extremely attenuated nexus with interstate commerce.

    * The government greatly exaggerated the threat of violence from protesters as the purported justification in its policing and prosecution of protest-related activity. The vast majority of charges brought were for non-violent offenses or offenses that were potentially hazardous but were restricted to property destruction, not violence against people.

    * Application of Terrorism: While the vast majority of charging documents and related Department Of Justice press releases are silent as to the involvement of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), there were 20 cases which explicitly referenced JTTF involvement. Meanwhile, none of the cases specifically referenced Operation Legend. Absence of this information does not indicate absence of involvement. Rather, it leaves the level of involvement as an open question. One likely expla- nation for the lack of this data is that the government sought to conceal the participation of these two law enforcement partnerships.

    Many of the 2020 Floyd protesters criminally prosecuted by feds got it harsh; they also mostly had onerous pre-trial detention.

    The right wing memes of comparative treatment seems to have worked: Most people don’t even seem to be aware the federal government prosecuted any Floyd cases, much less did so very aggressively.

  2. Njrun says:

    I wonder if Gina is related to the CEO of Fiserv, who has the same last name and is a big Republican donor. He supported a Jan. 6 attendee for a town council seat in his hometown in NJ this year’s election. The candidate, Christine Ead, won, even after the county Dems sent out a flyer with screenshots of her discussing being at the insurrection and other crazy Stop the Steal nonsense.

    She (Ead) hasn’t been charged and there’s no evidence she was inside the building. But she’s certifiably cray cray. Very sad. It’s a wealthy long-time Republican town but Dems have won two of the last four elections for council. Apparently being an insurrectionist doesn’t lose GOP voters.

  3. Peterr says:

    From the ABJ quote at the end, with emphasis added: “Any motion to extend that date must be based on good cause shown, and vague references to ongoing investigations or extenuating circumstances will not suffice; if matters must be submitted to the Court under seal, the government is familiar with how to accomplish that.

    Snap!

  4. Peterr says:

    Revealing a cooperation plea deal without permission is a good way to ruin your chances to get a 5K1.1 letter, which is what the government submits to ask for a lesser sentence in exchange for substantial assistance. So it’s possible the plea deal has gone south.

    Help me out here.

    Gina signed the plea agreement and entered a guilty plea to various charges. If the deal has gone south, isn’t it a little late for that, from her perspective? How can trying to back out of the plea deal after pleading guilty do anything but make the judge even more skeptical of her, leading to a harsher sentence? (We saw the fun Michael Flynn had, when he tried to withdraw his plea.)

    Could it also be the case that Gina’s attorneys screwed up, and should have filed this motion under seal, or at least had a sealed attachment that provides this information? In this motion, they’re trying to paint her as a reasonably upstanding citizen (admitted conduct aside), and being helpful and cooperative to the extent that she already entered a guilty plea, so that the judge will see fit to loosen her detention conditions. If that’s the goal of the motion, then intentionally revealing the existence of sealed materials does not help them reach that goal. On its face, it strikes me as a mistake in the filing, rather than a deal going south.

    On the other hand, could the lawyers be playing a very dangerous game, trying to use this filing to tip off other potential defendants? That is, instead of it being a mistake, it was deliberate, and yet they could plausibly say “Oops – our bad” when the UNDER SEAL stuff gets noticed and try to pass it off as a glitch?

    On the third hand, could the prosecution have granted permission to the defense to file this motion and reveal the existence of a plea deal, so as to spook others who might be implicated into getting serious about negotiating a plea deal?

    Wheels within wheels, or a simple/stupid mistake?

    • Rugger9 says:

      I think the second option is most likely given how the GQP types make “mistakes” like this many other times that just happen to benefit themselves. I don’t think it was truly accidental and I also wouldn’t expect the government to use this particular defendant (who AFAIK is not connected to the really big fish) as a rollout for option 3 unless there is someone of high interest that will see this message and respond as desired. Otherwise why waste the element of a nasty surprise later?

  5. obsessed says:

    After watching Garland SMIRK at the camera as he announced that he had nothing to say about Bannon I have to ask: what bureaucratic time delay could possibly justify not arresting Bannon? When someone commits an irrefutable crime in public, that person is usually arrested, no? If a police officer orders you to step out of the car and you don’t, it doesn’t take a month of bureaucratic wrangling to arrest you. Either our system is totally broken, or Garland is rotten. It’s just plain wrong.

    • Boris says:

      Bannon didn’t ignore the subpoena. He used a [ bullshit ] specific legal argument to try and avoid it. That argument must be adjudicated first. Then he will be forced to testify. My guess is he will then claim The 5th. Which will be countered with an offer of immunity.

      And so it goes…

      Also? The new DC US Attorney (who is responsible for overseeing this and all 1/6 cases) is sworn in 3 days from now.

      Patience.

      • bmaz says:

        That is not quite correct. The only way to legally challenge a subpoena is to move to quash it. Bannon had a letter sent with a bogus basis that he would not honor the subpoena. That does not cut it, and is not a “specific legal argument”. Unfortunately, the House Dems are not responding forcefully, nor is DOJ.

        • Boris says:

          “is NOT a “specific legal argument”.”

          …which i thought i had noted with the term ‘bullshit’

          will do better

          • bmaz says:

            Oh you did fine. Just wanted to elaborate a bit. Because the whole Bannon/House thing is ridiculous, up to and through DOJ. It is tiring.

            • Boris says:

              Agreed

              Found myself i.) yelling at Garland when he appeared on 𝑡𝑒ℎ 𝑡𝑣 the other day, and ii.) wish the ag was Grant (if the gqpers can openly pine for jfk jr to return from the dead, i can fixate on u. grant.)

                • Boris says:

                  naw – ulysses s grant

                  not that he held the post, but he appointed enough of them to know what to do and certainly wasn’t shy about acting

                  • bmaz says:

                    Was my mistake. And his death was so sudden and recent it sticks in my mind when I hear “Grant”.

                    But, for what it’s worth, he was the AG of Arizona for two terms, and would have made a fantastic AG for the whole US.

              • P J Evans says:

                DOJ needs someone to stand up in front of reporters and tell them what’s going on (what can be made public, anyway) because people think that not hearing about stuff means that nothing is happening. Even people who should know better are going there.

                • RWood says:

                  The wheels may be turning, and as Marcy notes here, perhaps even faster than is indicted publicly or even what would be considered “speedy”, but I still don’t see the rate being fast enough to get to the top in time. Trump needs to be convicted before Nov 2024.

                  So what’s the timeline look like? How soon do charges need to be filed in order to get a conviction of trump and his top dawgs before that date? That’s if this whole thing even survives Nov 2022.

  6. Leoghann says:

    Coming late to the party just to speculate in print. I could see how Gina Bisignano and Alan Hofstetter might have run in the same social circles. And I’m sure he’s one that DOJ would really like to get underneath.

Comments are closed.