A federal court in Florida sentenced Capitol rioter Paul Allard Hodgkins to eight months behind bars on Monday, less than half the term sought by prosecutors.
Hodgkins, 38, pled guilty in June to breaching the Senate chamber and obstructing a proceeding when former US President Donald Trump’s supporters swarmed the Capitol on Jan. 6. He reportedly apologized during his sentencing hearing, telling Judge Randolph Moss that it was a “foolish decision” to have participated in the insurrection.
“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 said, according to The Associated Press.
The sentencing marks the first of a felony case of a Capitol rioter. About 500 people have been arrested in connection with the assault.
Prosecutors had sought a prison term of 18 months, but the AP said Moss erred on the side of leniency because Hodgkins played a less significant role in the mayhem that day than others.
“That was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a protest,” Moss reportedly said. “It was… an assault on democracy… It left a stain that will remain on us… on the country for years to come.”
Hodgkins was arrested in connection with the Capitol riot after he was seen in photographs holding a Trump flag in the Senate chamber. That day, Trump’s supporters sought to prevent lawmakers from certifying election results — a constitutionally-mandated step prior to US President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Trump cajoled his followers just hours prior to the assault to “stop the steal,” a reference to his uncorroborated claim of widespread voter fraud. The allegations have been debunked by Trump’s Justice Department, successive court cases and top Republican elections officials.
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