The Fairborn man who jumped a railing in an effort to get on stage at a Donald Trump political rally in Dayton pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court.
Thomas DiMassimo, 22, an acting major at Wright State University, was charged with illegally entering a “cordoned off and otherwise restricted area where a person protected by the Secret Service was temporarily visiting.”
DiMassimo is due back in court March 31 for a pretrial conference and was ordered to adhere to certain conditions issued by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Sharon Ovington.
The federal misdemeanor carries maximum penalties of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. DiMassimo’s attorney said probation is the likely outcome no matter the plea, but that setting a precedent for behavior at political rallies is the bigger issue.
“Can the court restrict someone’s access to a political event?” defense attorney Jon Paul Rion asked. “It’s a significant political issue in our mind.
“The First Amendment protects the ability for political speech. Clearly, being present at a political event is a form of speech. So that’s going to be a question for the court to consider.”
Newly named acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Of Ohio Benjamin C. Glassman said the case is worth prosecuting because it represents a serious safety issue.
“Passions are high in this election, and we think it’s important for people who are attending political events — whether they’re attending to support a candidate or whether they’re attending to protest — that everybody is safe,” Glassman said.
“Part of the idea is that proceeding here hopefully people who see that we are bringing this case are going to stop and think, ‘Hey, whether I’m attending a campaign rally in support of a candidate or to protest that candidate, let’s do it safely and according to the rules.’ ”
The seldom-prosecuted federal statute is a matter of political free speech, according to DiMassimo’s attorney.
“Looking forward, Tommy DiMassimo is a strong believer in the political process,” Rion said. “He believes in the voice of the youth, and he wants to make sure that it can be heard.”
DiMassimo has said if he had reached the stage, he was going to say that people should stand up to Trump, whom he called racist and a bully.
“I think that the point that Tommy DiMassimo wanted to make, he has made,” Rion said. “I think he has been very successful at getting his views of Mr. Trump expressed through local and national and international media. I think that was the entire point of this.”
Ovington ordered DiMassimo to report to the pretrial services office, promise to appear when asked and stay within the Southern District of Ohio. But the judge did allow DiMassimo to travel to Georgia on Friday and return to Ohio on Sunday.
Secret Service and other security officers swarmed DiMassimo on March 13 as he reached the back of the stage and tried to scramble up, about 8 to 10 feet from where the Republican front runner was speaking to a large crowd in the hangar at Wright Bros. Aero.
Trump was startled by the commotion, stopped his speech and was immediately surrounded by four Secret Service agents.