July 19, 2021 9:13am
Updated: July 19, 2021 1:26pm
A Florida man, who breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6, was sentenced to eight months in prison on Monday. Paul Allard Hodgkins pleaded guilty last month to one count of obstructing an official proceeding – Congress' certification of the 2020 presidential election results.
Prosecutors, who asked for an 18-month sentence, argued that Hodgkins, "like each rioter, contributed to the collective threat to democracy."
"Although you were only one member of a larger mob, you actively participated in a larger event that threatened the Capitol and democracy itself. The damage that was caused that way was way beyond a several-hour delay of the vote certification. It is a damage that will persist in this country for several decades," said U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss of Washington, DC.
According to video footage, Hodgkins breached the Senate chamber and took a selfie with the infamous "Shaman," who donned a horned helmet.
Hodgkins' sentencing could set a standard for hundreds of other defendants now facing prosecution for their actions on January 6. The judge's ruling will likely help other defendants decide whether to accept plea deals or go to trial.
The 38-year-old's attorney had asked U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss not to impose a prison sentence on his client, arguing that the shame attached to his actions will follow him for the rest of his life.
"Whatever punishment this court may provide will pale in comparison to the scarlet letter Mr. Hodgkins will wear for the rest of his life," attorney Patrick Leduc said of his client.
Leduc argues that Hodgkins' actions represent "the story of a man who for just one hour on one day lost his bearings ... who made a fateful decision to follow the crowd."
Hodgkins, who hails from a poorer part of Tampa, Florida, and regularly volunteers at a food bank, is not accused of assaulting anyone or damaging property.