Paul Allard Hodgkins of Tampa, Florida, was charged with a felony for breaching the Senate chamber on January 6 and sentenced to eight months in jail. Hodgkins was the first person charged with a felony to be sentenced. The Associated Press reports, “Hodgkins apologized and said he was ashamed of his actions on January 6.”
During a court appearance, he told the judge, “if I had any idea that the protest… would escalate (the way) it did… I would have never ventured farther than the sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue.” He went on to say, “this was a foolish decision on my part.”
Prosecutors asked that Hodgkins serve 18 months in prison, claiming that he, “like each rioter, contributed to the collective threat to democracy.” However, Judge Randolph Moss chose to give him less than one year in jail.
The sentence could set the bar for hundreds of other defendants who are deciding whether to go to trial or accept plea deals. Assistant United States Attorney Mona Sedky stated that “while Hodgkinds didn’t engage in violence himself, he walked among many who did in the ransacking of the People’s House.” Hodgkins agreed with the prosecution to plead guilty to one felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding, a charge punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors acknowledge that “Hodgkins was never accused of assaulting anyone or damaging property” and said he deserved “some leniency for taking responsibility almost immediately and pleading guilty to the obstruction charge.” But they also said the fact that he was equipped with rope, goggles, and latex gloves showed that he went to the Capitol ready for violence.
Hodgkins’ lawyer, Patrick Leduc, said in court documents that his actions weren’t much different than those of Anna Morgan Lloyd. She was the first person of around 500 arrested to be sentenced due to the January 6 riot. Lloyd pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and was sentenced to three years probation.
Leduc also said Hodgkins was “an otherwise law-abiding American who, despite living in a poorer part of Tampa, regularly volunteered at a food bank.” He also stated that Hodgkins was an Eagle Scout and that his actions on that day “is the story of a man who for just one hour on one day lost his bearings.”