The first defendant to be sentenced on a felony charge for breaching the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 will spend less than a year behind bars, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, of Florida, was sentenced to eight months in prison during a hearing that may set the precedent for dozens of other defendants also facing felony charges in connection with the Capitol riot.
“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,” Hodgkins told U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss in prepared remarks. “This was a foolish decision on my part.”
Prosecutors said Hodgkins did not assault anyone or damage property on Jan. 6 when he joined the mob that stormed the Capitol in an attempt to halt Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election.
The Trump supporter did, however, arrive in Washington ahead of the riot with rope, protective goggles and latex gloves — which prosecutors said proves he came prepared for violence.
They showed the judge a video of the Florida native wearing a red Trump 2020 T-shirt and carrying a red Trump flag over his shoulder while breaking into the U.S. Senate chambers, an action the defendant told the court was “a foolish decision.”
He pleaded guilty last month to one count of obstructing an official proceeding — which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence — in exchange for dropping lesser charges, including entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct.
Judge Moss said Monday that the defendant participated in one of the “worst episodes” in the nation’s history.
“That was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a protest. It was … an assault on democracy,” the judge said. “It left a stain that will remain on us … on the country for years to come.”
Hodgkins’ lawyer, Patrick Leduc, told The Washington Times on Monday that he thinks the judge “was in a difficult position.”
“He didn’t have any precedent by which to give him guidance, and the events of Jan. 6 are, for lack of a better term, extraordinary,” Mr. Leduc said during a phone interview.
Last month, Anna Morgan Lloyd, 49 of Indiana, became the first Capitol Hill rioter to be sentenced of the more than 500 arrested in connection with the attack. She was sentenced to three years’ probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of “parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.”
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.