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Freddy Monares, Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Greg Gianforte Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor Assault, Receives Six-Month Deferred Sentence

U.S. Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte (R-MT) has plead guilty to misdemeanor assault against a reporter.

According to reporter Whitney Bermes of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Gallatin County Judge Rick West ruled Gianforte will face no jail time; he initially called for Gianforte to serve four days, but changed his ruling after a conference with Gianforte’s attorney.

Just earlier this morning, Gianforte received a six-month deferred sentence after pleading guilty to the assault. Gianforte will also pay a $300 fine and $85 in court fees. He will be booked at the county jail and fingerprinted before “signing up for the work program.” West also mandated Gianforte perform community service and attend anger management courses. Per Bermes, West called this “a standard sentence in this type of case that I would do.”

Gianforte has until November 28, 2017 to complete his community service.

Last month, on the final day before Montana’s special election to replace Ryan Zinke, Gianforte assaulted reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian—allegedly body-slamming him when Jacobs asked Gianforte about healthcare legislation. Jacobs’ injuries necessitated hospital treatment; Gianforte also broke Jacobs’ glasses. The incident took place at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Montana.

As previously reported, Gianforte was later charged with misdemeanor assault.

Last week, Gianforte donated $50,000 to the press advocacy group Committee to Protect Journalists, as part of an arrangement to quell any civil claims. He also filed to postpone his appearance in Gallatin County Court—his previous deadline had been June 7—as well as a bid for re-election in 2018.

Now, according to the Chronicle, Gianforte has formally plead guilty in court; Jacobs provided testimony as well about the incident:

Gianforte is represented by former U.S. attorney for Montana Bill Mercer and Bozeman criminal defense attorney Todd Whipple.

Jacobs testified before the court Monday, recounting the assault, which he said thrust him unwittingly into the national spotlight.

On Gianforte’s apology, Jacobs testified, “I fully expect his thoughtful words to be followed by concrete actions once he takes his seat in Congress.”

Montana’s newest Congressman, who defeated Democratic opponent Rob Quist in the U.S. House special election, was cited May 24. Jacobs told the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office that Gianforte had “body slammed” him.

The incident happened shortly after 5 p.m. that night at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters, 212 Discovery Drive in Bozeman.

Gallatin County deputies and medics from Hyalite Rural Fire District were called to the scene. Jacobs was taken to Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital and released later that evening.

Gianforte was questioned briefly by a deputy at the scene then left in a vehicle and later declined a follow-up interview with investigators, according to Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin.

After media reports of the incident, Gianforte spokesman Sane Scanlon sent out a statement claiming that, while Gianforte was giving a separate interview in a private office, Jacobs “aggressively shoved” a recorder in Gianforte’s face and asked him “badgering questions.”

Jacobs’ story was later corroborated by audio posted by The Guardian and eyewitness accounts from a local Fox News affiliate crew.

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