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Man gets 8 months in prison in 1st sentencing for felony in US Capitol riot

Posted at 11:52 PM, Jul 18, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — 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.

Paul Allard Hodgkins pleaded guilty last month to one count of obstructing an official proceeding and apologized Monday, saying he made a ”foolish decision.”

Hodgkins' hearing in Washington will likely set a benchmark for punishment in similar cases — those who stand accused of participating in the riot and breaching the building, but not the organization of the conspiracy.

Prosecutors wanted Hodgkins to serve 18 months behind bars, saying he and other rioters "contributed to the collective threat to democracy." But a lawyer for Hodgkins asked a federal judge not to impose a prison sentence, saying the shame that will attach to Hodgkins should be factored in as punishment.

"Whatever punishment this court may provide will pale in comparison to the scarlet letter Mr. Hodgkins will wear for the rest of his life," Patrick N. Leduc wrote in a recent filing, citing a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel in which a woman accused of adultery is forced to wear a letter "A."

Hodgkins was never accused of assaulting anyone or damaging property. But video footage shows Hodgkins inside the Senate chamber shortly after lawmakers had been evacuated. Hodgkins also took selfies in the chamber with Jake Angeli, a shirtless protester who wore face paint and a horned helmet and has since become known as the "QAnon Shaman."

Hodgkins' lawyers say his actions were similar to those of Anna Morgan Lloyd, an Indiana woman who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct for her role in the riot last month and was given three years probation. Prosecutors believe Hodgkins deserves a lengthier sentence because he breached the Senate chamber, unlike Lloyd.