Monday July 26th, 2021 1:28PM

Capitol rioter who breached Senate gets 8 months for felony

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

A crane operator from Florida 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, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss said the 38-year-old had played a role, if not as significant as others, in one of the worst episodes in American history. Thousands of rioters loyal to then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol and disrupted the certification of Joe Biden's election win, in a stunning display of public violence.

“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 Hodgkins’ sentence could set a benchmark for future cases. Deciding an appropriate punishment for Hodgkins, he said, was more challenging because the case is unique and the court couldn’t look to previous sentencings as a guide.

Hodgkins was disappointed a prison term was imposed, his lawyer, Patrick Leduc, said in a phone interview after Monday’s hearing. He said Hodgkins was heading back to his hometown of Tampa to organize his affairs — which will include speaking to his employer about whether imprisonment will cost him his job — before reporting to prison in several months.

“He’s hurt. He's sad,” Leduc said. “Life is coming at him at 100 mph."

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 Leduc, Hodgkins' attorney, 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.

“If we allow people to storm the United States Capitol, what are we doing to preserve our democracy?" Moss asked.

But the judge 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 Washington’s most famous 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. He added, “This was a foolish decision on my part.”

He pleaded guilty last month to obstructing an official proceeding by participating in an attack that forced lawmakers to run and hide in fear. Five people died, including a police officer and rioter shot by police. Two other police officers who faced Jan. 6 rioters died by suicide days later.

In requesting an 18-month prison sentence during the hearing in Washington, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky likened the attack to “domestic terrorism.”

Leduc, Hodgkins' lawyer, said the government's description of the Jan. 6 events was hyperbole.

“I think it is gaslighting the country,” he said. What happened, he added, was "a protest that became a riot.”

Moss interrupted Leduc again, noting that some of the Trump supporters seemed to be out to track down lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“There were people who were storming through the halls of the Capitol saying, ‘Where’s Nancy?’” the judge told the attorney. “That is more than a simple riot.”

Sedky said that while Hodgkins didn’t engage in violence himself, he walked among many who did — in what she called “the ransacking of the People’s House.” And as he walked by smashed police barriers, he could see the smoke of tear gas and the chaos ahead of him.

“What does he do?” she asked the court. “He walks toward it. He doesn’t walk away.”

Hodgkins, she added, was in the midst of a mob that forced lawmakers to seek shelter and some congressional staffers to hide in fear, locked in offices, as hundreds swept through the building. Those in fear for their lives that day will, she said, “bear emotional scars for many years — if not forever.”

Under the June plea deal, Hodgkins agreed to plead guilty to the one count and pay $2,000 in restitution to the Treasury Department. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop less serious charges, including entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct. They also said they would ask for a reduced sentence for acceptance of responsibility and for saving the government from a costly trial.

In earlier filings, Leduc described his client as an otherwise law-abiding American who, despite living in a poorer part of Tampa, regularly volunteered at a food bank. He noted that Hodgkins is an Eagle Scout.

His actions on Jan. 6 “is the story of a man who for just one hour on one day lost his bearings ... who made a fateful decision to follow the crowd,” the attorney said.

But Judge Moss said Monday he didn't accept that there was no forethought by Hodgkins or that he had no ill intentions. He brought rope and protective goggles with him to Washington, the judge said, and that demonstrated he came "prepared to defend his position and engage in whatever needed to be done.”

Video footage shows Hodgkins wearing a Trump 2020 T-shirt, the flag flung over his shoulder and eye goggles around his neck, inside the Senate. He took a selfie with a self-described shaman in a horned helmet and other rioters on the dais behind him.

Separately on Monday, Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys who was arrested in Washington two days before the riot, pleaded guilty to burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was torn down from a historic Black church in December. He also pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device after police found two high-capacity firearm magazines when he was arrested.


Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mtarm.

  • Associated Categories: Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Capitol rioter who breached Senate gets 8 months for felony
A Florida man who breached the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag has received an eight-month prison term, the first resolution for a felony case in the Capitol insurrection
12:38PM ( 4 minutes ago )
The Latest: Fully vaccinated US politician tests positive
Fully vaccinated Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan says he has tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday
12:30PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Blue Origin brings space tourism to tiny Texas town
For years, the official letterhead for the small town of Van Horn read simply: “Farming, ranching, mining.”
12:27PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Anger as French protesters compare vaccines to Nazi horrors
A French Holocaust survivor has denounced anti-vaccination protesters comparing themselves to Jews who were persecuted by Nazi Germany during World War II
12:00PM ( 43 minutes ago )
Biden hosts Jordan's king amid tough choices in Mideast
President Joe Biden is set to host King Abdullah II of Jordan, a meeting that comes at one of the most difficult moments of the Jordanian leader’s 22-year rule and at a pivotal moment in the Middle East for Biden
11:44AM ( 59 minutes ago )
Official: Haiti's interim prime minister to step down
Haiti’s elections minister says that interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph will step down in the wake of the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise
11:26AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Oregon wildfire burns area nearly the size of Los Angeles
Erratic winds and dry lightning are among the dangers for crews battling the nation’s largest wildfire
9:51AM ( 2 hours ago )
Guantanamo inmate sent to home country in Biden policy shift
The Biden administration has transferred a detainee out of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility for the first time in a major shift in policy from the Trump presidency
9:50AM ( 2 hours ago )
Microsoft Exchange hack caused by China, US and allies say
The Biden administration is blaming China for a hack of Microsoft Exchange email server software that compromised tens of thousands of computers around the world earlier this year
9:39AM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: More than half of young Mainers have 1st vaccine
More than half of Maine’s teenagers and 12-year-olds have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine
10:40AM ( 2 hours ago )
Man faces 1st sentencing for felony in riot at US Capitol
A Florida man who breached the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag is scheduled to become the first Jan. 6 rioter sentenced for a felony
12:26AM ( 12 hours ago )
Texas Democrats see walkout as the way out of party slump
Texas Democrats are starting a second week of holing up in Washington to block new voting laws back home
12:18AM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Pennsylvania election audit gets GOP campaign trail embrace
In the battleground state of Pennsylvania, where former President Donald Trump lost by 80,000 votes eight months ago, his false claims of a stolen election are finding new signs of life
2:03PM ( 22 hours ago )
3 Texas Democrats who fled elections bill vote get COVID
Three of the Democratic state lawmakers who fled Texas to stymie a Republican-backed effort to impose new voting restrictions have tested positive for COVID-19 in the nation's capital
8:42PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: 3 lawmakers who fled Texas over vote have virus
Three of the Democratic state lawmakers who fled Texas to stymie a Republican-backed effort to impose broad new voting restrictions have tested positive for COVID-19 in the nation’s capital
4:16PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Congress News
California recall candidates dispute parts of official list
The list of candidates running in California's recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom includes 41 people but remains unsettled
4:07PM ( 20 hours ago )
Radio host Larry Elder not on list of CA recall candidates
California has released a list of candidates who qualified to run in the Sept. 14 recall election that could remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office
2:56AM ( 1 day ago )
Hundreds greet Aristide on return to troubled Haiti
Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has returned to Haiti after nearly a month in Cuba
6:06PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections
Trump opines on coup while rejecting fears about his actions
Former President Donald Trump is insisting he's “not into coups” after a new book revealed the country’s top military leader feared Trump might try to stage one after losing the 2020 election
6:45PM ( 3 days ago )
On farewell visit to US, Merkel brings message of stability
President Joe Biden will welcome German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House for what's likely her last official visit to Washington
11:04AM ( 4 days ago )
Arizona county to spend $3M on voting machines after audit
Arizona’s largest county has approved nearly $3 million for new vote-counting machines to replace those given to legislative Republicans for a partisan review of the 2020 election
8:04PM ( 4 days ago )
General Election News
Clyburn: Biden likely working on changing filibuster rules
U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn says he feels President Joe Biden is likely working behind the scenes to tweak Senate rules so the filibuster can’t be used on legislation pertaining to election law or other constitutional changes
8:27PM ( 4 days ago )
Cuba, Haiti stir fresh political pressures for US president
The problems of two tiny Caribbean states, Cuba and Haiti, have vexed U.S. presidents for decades
12:30PM ( 5 days ago )
Pro-EU party in Moldova wins clear majority in election
A pro-reform party seeking closer ties for Moldova with the European Union has won a clear majority in Sunday’s snap parliamentary elections, electoral commission results show
7:04AM ( 1 week ago )
General Presidential Election News
Blue Origin brings space tourism to tiny Texas town
For years, the official letterhead for the small town of Van Horn read simply: “Farming, ranching, mining.”
12:27PM ( 16 minutes ago )
US Olympic gymnastics alternate tests positive for virus
An alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19 in an Olympic training camp in Japan
12:27PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Capitol rioter who breached Senate sentenced to 8 months
A Florida man who breached the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag has received an eight-month prison term, the first resolution for a felony case in the Capitol insurrection
12:22PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Travel stocks slump, with airlines, cruises, hotels tumble
Air travel in the United States hit another pandemic-era record over the weekend as vacationers jammed airports, but shares of airlines, cruise lines, hotels and almost anything else related to travel are tumbling on growing concerns about highly contagious variants of coronavirus
12:19PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Biden says federal investments can prolong economic growth
President Joe Biden said Monday that his infrastructure and families agenda must be passed to sustain the economic momentum of his first six months in office
12:19PM ( 24 minutes ago )