A Tampa man has become the first to receive a felony sentence from a federal judge, sentenced to serve eight months behind bars after participating in the Jan 6 Capitol riot.
Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, was sentenced on Monday, June 19, after pleading guilty to interrupting a proceeding last month, despite being not charged with assault or property damage.
“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 the judge.
“This was a foolish decision on my part,” he added.
Later, Hodgkins also addressed the court, claiming that he believed Joe Biden was the true President of the United States.
Hodgkins’ attempt to be classed as a “minor” participant in the disturbance was denied by the judge, who noted that he “was one of a limited number of people who made their way onto the Senate floor.”
While the judge believed Hodgkins’ involvement in the riot was an “aberration in his life,” he also felt the attack on Jan. 6 “tarnished” American history and that future riots must be avoided.
“The symbolism of that act is unmistakable,” the judge said.
“In that act, he captured the threat to democracy that we all witnessed that day. … People have to know that assaulting the United States Capitol and impeding the democratic process, even if you don’t come bearing arms, will have consequences.”
Patrick Leduc, Hodgkins’ lawyer, claimed that labeling an out-of-control American demonstration as terrorism was a mistake.
“All of this commentary about Jan. 6 being an act of domestic terrorism, I find it to be offensive, and I think it is gaslighting the country and it needs to stop….It was a protest that became a riot,” said Leduc.
He also said that Hodgkins’ acts were comparable to Anna Morgan Lloyd, a 49-year-old Indiana woman who, after pleading guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct, was sentenced to three years of probation.
On the other hand, prosecutors pointed out that Hodgkins boarded a bus with a backpack containing rope, safety goggles, and latex gloves, implying that he was prepared for violence. Moreover, during the riot, Hodgkins walked onto the Senate floor wearing a Trump 2020 T-shirt and carrying a flag over his shoulder.
His punishment is intended to set a precedent for other rioters who have been apprehended and are awaiting sentencing.