The first person to be convicted of a felony for their role in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has been sentenced to eight months in prison. Paul Hodgkins, 38, pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing a joint session of Congress after he stormed the Capitol Building and made his way into the Senate chamber.
Hodgkins spent about 15 minutes inside the building and was carrying a giant Trump flag, something U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss noted during the sentencing hearing.
"The symbolism of that act was unmistakable," Moss said. "He was staking a claim on the floor of the U.S. Senate not with an American flag, but declaring his loyalty to a single individual over the nation. In that act, he captured the threat to democracy that we all witnessed that day."
Hodgkins apologized for his actions and said he got swept up in the moment as the crowd forced their way past police barricades and into the U.S. Capitol Building.
"I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions in Washington," Hodgkins told the court. "This was a foolish decision on my part that I take full responsibility for it."
Judge Moss said that Hodgkins knew what he was doing when he joined the riot.
"Although Mr. Hodgkins was only one member of a larger mob, he actively and intentionally participated in an event that threatened not only the security of the Capitol but democracy itself," Moss said. "That is chilling for many reasons.
At least 535 people have been charged for their roles in the riots. While Hodgkins was the first person convicted of a felony, two people convicted of misdemeanors have already been sentenced. One person was sentenced to six months in jail, while the other was given three years of probation.