Federal court in Washington sentenced Paul Hodgkins, 38, to eight months in prison for his role in the invasion of Capitol Hill on January 6. The Florida man is the first person implicated to be sentenced for the attack, and his judgment could serve as the basis for other cases.
Arrested on February 16 after being exposed, Hodgkins could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but federal guidelines called for a sentence of 15 to 21 months. The accused pleaded guilty to obstructing due process while the United States Congress certified the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States and the prosecution called for an 18-month prison sentence.
Footage from the attack shows the bearded man with long hair, wearing ski goggles around his neck and carrying a large flag in support of the former Republican president. According to court documents, Hodgkins entered the Capitol with a backpack containing goggles, rope and latex gloves, among other things. He managed to enter the Senate Chamber, where a photograph was taken.
The prosecution admitted, however, that Hodgkins “did not personally participate in the violence or the destruction of property, nor did he cause the violence” and that he “accepted responsibility too soon”. He also spent less than half an hour on the Capitol.
After pleading guilty, he struck a deal with the prosecution that he would pay the Treasury Department $ 2,000, according to a letter from the Department of Justice to the accused’s attorney, published by the Washington Post.
In the letter, federal prosecutors said the attack on Capitol Hill caused $ 1.5 million in damage and said those accused of participating in the invasion would be responsible for footing the bill. The text did not explain how investigators arrived at the $ 1 million amount.
The January 6 invasion took place during Biden’s certification of victory. Thousands of his supporters gathered outside the White House on the day of the attack. Without accepting defeat, former President Donald Trump uttered in front of the crowd such phrases as “if you do not fight hard you will not have any more countries”, which is why, for the Democrats, he does no doubt the former president inflated chaos and violence. Five people died and dozens of officers were injured.
Accused of fomenting an insurgency, Trump was impeached – the second in his term – in which he was acquitted by the Senate in February for lack of votes from the Republican side. Even his party’s congressional leaders, however, admit some responsibility for the former president in the attack, but argue that the Senate lacks the power to try him.
As of January 6, more than 535 have been arrested across the country for participating in the attack on Congress, and more than 165 have been charged. Before Hodgkins, two other people were convicted – both pleaded guilty. A woman was sentenced to three years’ probation and a man to three months in prison, but the period was already covered by his preventive detention. While the man, also from Florida, was on trial for a misdemeanor, Hodgkins became the first accused to receive a conviction for committing a felony.