By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge on Monday handed down eight months in prison to Floridian Paul Hodgkins for his role in the Jan.6 attack on the United States Capitol, making him the first among hundreds of accused rioters facing prosecution for incarceration.
Hodgkins, 38, pleaded guilty on June 2 to obstructing due process as Congress formally certified Joe Biden’s election as President of the United States last November when supporters of the Former President Donald Trump went on a rampage in the building.
At a sentencing hearing Monday, Prosecutor Mona Sedky told U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss that Hodgkins, a Tampa resident, donned goggles before entering the Senate Chamber during the riot and had “proudly posed for selfies,” which he texted to friends.
Sedky admitted that Hodgkins hadn’t destroyed any property “and he hadn’t hurt anyone.”
In a statement to the court, Hodgkins said he had “remorse and regret” for his actions in Washington and acknowledged that these actions may have encouraged others to commit destructive acts.
“It was an insane decision on my part for which I take full responsibility,” Hodgkins told the court.
Moss admitted that Hodgkins had not been violent, threatened no one or organized the Capitol attack. But the judge said Hodgkins went to Capitol “to prevent the certification of the election, and he admitted he did.”
The judge said that while he thought Hodgkins’ participation in the riot was an “aberration in his life,” he also believed that the Jan. 6 attack had “tarnished” United States history and that ‘it was necessary to deter the future rioters.
More than 535 people have been accused of participating in the attack, an unsuccessful attempt to block Congress from certifying Biden’s victory over Trump, who falsely claimed the election was stolen from him by widespread electoral fraud .
While others accused on January 6 rioters pleaded guilty, Hodgkins became the first to be sentenced to prison.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Will Dunham)