Capitol rioter who breached Senate gets 8 months for felony

In this file image from U.S. Capitol Police video, Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, of Tampa, Fla., front, stands in the well on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Jan. 6 at the Capitol in Washington.

(AP) — A Florida man who breached the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag was sentenced Monday to eight months behind bars, the first punishment handed down for a felony charge in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and one that could help determine the severity of other sentences in hundreds of pending cases.

In pronouncing the sentence on Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss said the man had played a role, if not as significant as others, in one of the worst episodes in U.S. history, in which thousands of rioters loyal to then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol and disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s election win.

“That was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a protest,” Moss said. “It was ... an assault on democracy.” He added: “It left a stain that will remain on us, ... on the country, for years to come.”

Moss acknowledged that Hodgkins’ sentence could set a benchmark for future cases. And deciding an appropriate punishment was made more challenging because the case is unique and the court couldn’t look to previous sentencings as a guide.

More than 500 people have been charged so far for their participation in the attack, and many, like Hodgkins, were accused of serious crimes but were not indicted, as some others were, for roles in larger conspiracies. They will have to decide whether to plead guilty or go to trial.

Moss interrupted Hodgkins’ attorney, Patrick Leduc, to ask if granting the defense request to spare Hodgkins from prison could encourage others disgruntled by the results of a future election to besiege the Capitol.

But he said Hodgkins deserved a lesser sentence than the 18 months prosecutors had requested, in part because he didn’t assault anyone, didn’t damage government property and wasn’t among the lead attackers.

Hodgkins apologized to the court and said he felt ashamed. Speaking calmly from a prepared text, he described being caught up in the euphoria as he walked down Pennsylvania Avenue then followed a crowd of hundreds into the Capitol.

“If I had any idea that the protest ... would escalate [the way] it did ... I would never have ventured farther than the sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue,” he told the judge. “This was a foolish decision on my part.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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(1) comment

Judd Grossman

The sentence doesn't seem unreasonable. Now able equal justice to all rioters, including BLM and Antifa.

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