A man who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was sentenced to eight months in jail on Monday.
Paul Hodgkins, 38, of Tampa, Florida entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 at approximately 2:50 p.m. He was seen about 10 minutes later wearing a “Trump 2020” shirt and waving a flag with the same message on it, walking among the desks in the Senate well, taking selfie photographs with his cell phone, and donning, at one point, white latex gloves.
Hodgkins, who exited the Capitol after about 25 minutes inside, was also sentenced to 24 months of supervised release after serving the jail time and ordered to pay a special assessment of $100 and $2,000 in restitution.
Defense attorneys pushed for no jail time, noting Hodgkins had no prior criminal record and was not accused of being violent while in the Capitol.
Patrick Leduc, one attorney, asked the judge to be “merciful” and claimed Hodgkin’s actions were not materially different than Anna Morgan-Lloyd, 49, who was sentenced last month to probation.
Hodgkins was the first participant in the U.S. Capitol breach to be sentenced for a felony. Morgan-Lloyd pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss largely rejected the defense’s arguments.
Hodgkins entered the Capitol bearing ski goggles and rope, indicating he expected clashes with law enforcement, the judge said.
“I don’t know whether he thought there was going to be an assault on the Capitol or not, but he came that day prepared to defend his position and to engage in whatever needed to be done, even if it placed him at the center of the conflict … he didn’t end up there by accidental curiosity,” said Moss, an Obama nominee who worked as a government lawyer during the Clinton administration.
“It was obvious as he approached the Capitol that he was participating in an ongoing attack to impede the certification of the election … To make matters worse Mr. Hodgkins stood next to the dais of the United States Senate, in the well of the Senate, and raised the red flag that said ‘Trump 2020’ in large white letters. The symbolism of that act is unmistakable. He was making a claim on the floor of the United States Senate, not with an American flag, but with a flag declaring his loyalty to a single individual over the nation. That act captured the threat to democracy that we all witnessed that day.”
Members of Congress, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, were evacuated on Jan. 6 after the Capitol was breached through broken windows and other avenues. The evacuees, who were evacuated before Hodgkins entered the chamber, were in the process of certifying electoral votes. They eventually reconvened and certified Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.
Prosecutors had recommended Hodgkins be sentenced to 18 months in jail, the midpoint of sentencing guidelines as calculated by the U.S. Probation Office.
“Yes, Mr. Hodgkins did not participate in the physical violence or the destruction, but he surely participated in the grave danger to our democracy,” assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky told the judge. The recommended sentence would help bolster respect for the law, she offered, describing the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 as being done to “subvert the election and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”
Hodgkins later addressed the court directly. “I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021,” he said, adding that he regretted the damage the breach caused and how it “hurt” America.