A Florida man who broke into the U.S. Senate chamber holding a Trump campaign flag was sentenced to eight months in jail on Monday. This is the first punishment for felony charges during the congressional riots on January 6, and will help determine other sentences. The severity is in hundreds of outstanding cases.
In announcing his verdict against Paul Allard Hodgkins, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss stated that the 38-year-old was one of the worst events in U.S. history. One China played a role, even if it was not as important as the others.
Thousands of mobs loyal to then-President Donald Trump stormed into the Capitol, disrupted the proof of Joe Biden’s victory, and displayed a shocking display of public violence.
“In any case, this is not a protest,” Moss said. “This is… an attack on democracy.” He added: “It has left a stain on us… In the next few years, this country will continue to exist.”
Moss acknowledged that Hodgkins’ judgment can set benchmarks for future cases. Determining the appropriate punishment becomes more challenging because the case is unique and the court cannot be guided by previous judgments.
Hundreds of people charge
So far, more than 500 people have been charged for participating in the attack. Many people have been charged with serious crimes like Hodgkins, but they have not been charged for participating in a larger conspiracy like some others. They will have to decide whether to plead guilty or accept trial.
Moss interrupted Hodgkins’ attorney Patrick Leduc, asking whether he agreed with the defense’s request to exempt Hodgkins from prison would encourage others who are dissatisfied with future election results to besiege the Capitol.
“If we allow people to rush into the U.S. Capitol, what are we going to do to maintain our democracy?” Moss asked.
But he said that Hodgkins’ sentence should be less than the 18 months required by the prosecutor, partly because he did not attack anyone, did not damage government property, and was not one of the main attackers.
‘A stupid decision’
Hodgkins apologized to the court and said he was ashamed. He calmly stated from the prepared text that he was immersed in euphoria as he walked on the most famous avenue in Washington and then followed hundreds of people into the Capitol.
“If I know the protest…will escalate [the way] It does…I will never risk further than the sidewalks of Pennsylvania Avenue,” he told the judge. He added: “This is a stupid decision for me. “
Last month, he admitted to participating in an attack that forced lawmakers to flee and hide in fear, thereby hampering official procedures. Five people died, including a policeman and a mob shot by the police. A few days later, two other policemen who faced the mob committed suicide.
When calling for a sentence of 18 months in prison at the Washington hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky compared the attack to “domestic terrorism.”
Hodgkins’ lawyer Leduc said the government’s description of the January 6 incident was exaggerated.
“I think it is cheering for this country,” he said. He added that what happened was “a protest that turned into a riot.”
Moss interrupted Hodgkins again, pointing out that some Trump supporters seemed to be tracking lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Someone rushed into the lobby of the Capitol and said,’Where is Nancy?” the judge told the lawyer. “This is not just a simple riot.”
Sedky said that although Hodgkins himself was not involved in the violence, he walked among many people who did this-she called it “the looting of the People’s House.” When he passed the smashed police roadblock, he could see the smoke of tear gas and the chaos in front of him.
“What does he do?” She asked the court. “He walked towards it. He didn’t walk away.”
She added that Hodgkins was in the midst of a mob, which forced lawmakers to seek asylum. Some congressional workers went into hiding out of fear, locked in their offices, and hundreds of people swept the building. She said those who are afraid of life on that day will “leave emotional scars for many years-if not forever.”
According to the June plea agreement, Hodgkins agreed to plead guilty to one charge and pay $2,000 in damages to the Treasury Department. In exchange, the prosecutor agreed to drop less serious allegations, including access to restricted buildings and disorderly conduct.
They also stated that they will demand a reduction of the sentence in order to accept responsibility and save the government from costly trials.
In earlier documents, Leduc described his client as a law-abiding American. Although he lives in the impoverished area of ??his hometown of Tampa, he often volunteers at a food bank. He pointed out that Hodgkins was an Eagle Scout.
The lawyer said that his behavior on January 6 “tells the story of a man who lost his way in just one hour a day…he made a major decision to follow the crowd.”
But Moss said on Monday that he did not accept that Hodgkins was not foresight or that he was not malicious. The judge said that he came to Washington with ropes and goggles, which showed that he was “ready to defend his position and do whatever needs to be done.”
The video clip shows Hodgkins wearing Trump’s 2020 T-shirt in the Senate with the national flag on his shoulders and goggles around his neck. He took a photo with the shaman who claimed to be wearing a horned helmet and other mobs on the high platform behind him.