Paul Hodgkins, a Florida man who invaded the Senate chamber holding a Trump flag on Jan. 6, was sentenced to eight months in prison followed by 24 months of supervised release on Monday in the first felony sentencing in connection with the Capitol riot.
Hodgkins, who wore a Trump T-shirt during the Jan. 6 riot, pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of an official proceeding. Four other charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal.
Prosecutors requested an 18-month sentence for Hodgkins, saying that he made the wrong decision at several points: in Florida, when he packed up the gear he’d bring into the Capitol building; on Jan. 6, when he left the Trump rally early and headed to the Capitol; when he unlawfully entered the Capitol grounds; when he illegally entered the Capitol building; and when he entered into the Senate chamber. Hodgkins’ team asked for a probationary sentence, saying that the court should bring the country together by showing leniency and forgiveness. Hodgkins’ lawyer said in a filing that the court should follow the path that former President Abraham Lincoln had planned before his assassination and seek to bring the country together.
“The Court has a chance to emulate Lincoln. We have the chance to be as Lincoln had hoped, to exercise grace and charity, and to restore healing for those who seek forgiveness,” attorney Patrick Leduc wrote. “Alternatively, we can follow the mistakes of our past: to be harsh, seek vengeance, retribution, and revenge, and continue to watch the nation go down its present regrettable path.”
Hodgkins, 38, is the third defendant sentenced in the Capitol attack. Two prior defendants had been sentenced on misdemeanor charges. More than 500 people have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and hundreds more arrests are still in the works.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said that Hodgkins participated in the grave danger to our democracy, and that both Capitol staffers and law enforcement personnel who fought off rioters will “bear emotional scars for many years, if not forever.”
Sedky said that “Jan. 6 was an act of domestic terrorism” and that Hodgkins was flouting his disrespect for the law, and that there is a need to promote respect for the law and deter future potential criminals for engaging in such conduct.
“He willingly joined the fray, and he steadfastly remained a part of it,” Sedky said.
A significant sentence would send a “loud and clear message” to potential rioters thinking about a “sequel to the Jan. 6 attack,” Sedky said.
Hodgkins told the judge he was “truly remorseful” and regretful of what he did on Jan. 6. He said he made a “foolish decision” and allowed himself to put his “passion” before his “principles.”
“I came to D.C. with the intention of supporting a president I loved,” Hodgkins said. “The storming of the U.S. Capitol building is not something I had any idea would happen.”
Hodgkins said he does “realize that my involvement did still contribute to the greater problem that took place.” He also said he recognizes that President Joe Biden is “rightfully and respectfully the president of the United States.”