First felon sentenced for Capitol riots receives eight-month term

More than 500 people have been arrested in investigations into the insurrection

A Florida man who breached the US Senate chamber during the violent January 6 Capitol riots was jailed for eight months on Monday, in the closely watched first sentencing hearing for someone convicted of a felony over the attack.

Paul Hodgkins, 38, illegally entered the Capitol with eye goggles, rope and latex gloves as members of Congress gathered for a vote certifying the victory of Joe Biden, court documents said.

Hodgkins, who was identified in photographs brandishing a Trump campaign flag in the Senate, had admitted obstructing congressional proceedings.

The sentence is 10 months shorter than the Justice Department requested. Prosecutors acknowledged, however, that Hodgkins “did not personally engage in or espouse violence or property destruction".

“He accepted responsibility early and in a fulsome manner,” court documents read.

Hundreds of supporters of then-president Donald Trump, many associated with ultranationalist and white supremacist groups, stormed the US legislature on January 6 to halt Mr Biden's confirmation.

They had been egged on by Mr Trump, whose delivered a fiery speech immediately before the insurrection falsely claiming election fraud.

A comfortable majority of 57 senators — including seven from his own party — voted to convict Mr Trump after he was impeached by the House for inciting the riot, although this fell short of the two-thirds majority required under Senate rules to unseat a president.

Hodgkins spent less than half an hour inside the Capitol, court documents added, stopping to take "'selfie-style' photographs” inside the Senate chamber.

As the first rioter facing prison time after being convicted of a felony, Hodgkins's case is being seen as a possible bellwether for the prospects of other felons convicted over the attack.

More than 535 protesters have been arrested, and the investigation continues, with at least 165 people having been charged with assaulting or obstructing law enforcement.

Updated: July 19th 2021, 10:41 PM
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