July 28, 2021

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Florida man is first to face sentence for felony in U.S. Capitol riot – Tampa Bay Times

2 min read

A Tampa 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 in a hearing that will help set a benchmark for punishment in similar cases.

Prosecutors want Paul Allard Hodgkins to serve 18 months behind bars, saying in a recent filing that he, “like each rioter, contributed to the collective threat to democracy” by forcing lawmakers to temporarily abandon their certification of Joe Biden’s election victory and to scramble for shelter from incoming mobs.

Related: Don’t ‘cancel’ Tampa man who breached Capitol, lawyer urges

Video footage shows Hodgkins, 38, 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.

His sentencing Monday in Washington could set the bar for punishments of hundreds of other defendants as they decide whether to accept plea deals or go to trial. Hodgkins and others are accused of serious crimes but were not indicted, as other were, for roles in larger conspiracies.

Hodgkins is set to be sentenced today in federal court in Washington, D.C. He pleaded guilty last month to a single charge of obstruction of an official proceeding. He has remained free since shortly after his arrest.

Federal sentencing guidelines suggest he could receive between 15 and 21 months in prison.

A 32-page sentencing memo filed Thursday in the case of Paul Allard Hodgkins references cancel culture, makes religious overtones and includes lengthy asides about the American Civil War. The memo describes Hodgkins’ role in the riots as minimal as it denotes his good character traits, describing him as an Eagle Scout who volunteers helping animals and people.

Hodgkins was never accused of assaulting anyone or damaging property. And prosecutors said he deserves some leniency for taking responsibility almost immediately and pleading guilty to the obstruction charge, which carries a maximum 20-years prison sentence.

But they also noted how he boarded a bus in Tampa bound for a Jan. 6 Trump rally carrying rope, protective goggles and latex gloves in a backpack — saying that demonstrated he came to Washington prepared for violence.

– Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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