A man from Florida who told his wife and a jury that he had “fun” during the deadly Jan 6 insurrection at the US Capitol building has been sentenced to 8 months in prison. Paul Allard Hodgkins, a 38-year-old crane operator, pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing an official proceeding earlier this year.
During his sentencing hearing, Hodgkins apologized for his actions, describing his involvement as a “foolish decision to follow the crowd” and “an act of stupidity.” But he also attempted to justify his actions, claiming that he was caught up in the excitement of the moment and that he believed he was supporting former President Donald Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
“I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions on January 6th,” Hodgkins said. “I take full responsibility.”
Hodgkins traveled to Washington, D.C. on Jan 6 to participate in what was billed as a “Stop the Steal” rally, which was organized to support Trump’s false claims of election fraud. He was photographed on the Senate floor wearing a Trump 2020 t-shirt and carrying a “Trump 2020” flag.
Prosecutors argued that Hodgkins’ actions were not just a case of “being caught up in the moment.” They pointed out that he had brought a backpack containing protective goggles, medical gloves, and rope, suggesting that he was prepared to participate in violent actions.
“Make no mistake – this was not a peaceful protest. Mr. Hodgkins, along with many others, marched on the Capitol to interfere with the democratic process,” said Emory Cole, the Assistant US Attorney.
Hodgkins’ sentencing is the latest in a series of cases stemming from the Jan 6 attack on the Capitol. More than 500 people have been charged with crimes related to the insurrection, including attempted murder, assault, and conspiracy. As of August, 113 people had pleaded guilty to charges related to the attack, and 19 had been sentenced.
In the end, the judge in Hodgkins’ case sentenced him to 8 months in prison, rejecting his defense’s plea for leniency and arguing that Hodgkins’ actions posed a threat to democracy.
“Mr. Hodgkins put himself in a position to divert the attention of law enforcement away from the violent mob and potential threats to our elected leaders,” said Judge Randolph Moss. “He played a role, however minor, in the chaos of that day.”