July 19 (UPI) — Paul Allard Hodgkins, a 38-year-old crane operator from Tampa, Fla., was sentenced Monday to eight months in prison for his part in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Hodgkins’ sentencing was the first for a felony in what is expected to be some 600 more for those who breached the Capitol building.
“He was staking a claim on the floor of the United States Senate, not with the American flag but with a flag declaring his loyalty to a single individual over the entire nation,” Judge Randolph Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said, according to CNN.
“When a mob is prepared to attack the Capitol to prevent elected officials from both parties from performing their constitutional and statutory duty, democracy is in trouble … the damage that they caused that day is way beyond the delays that day. It is a damage that will persist in this country for decades,” Moss said.
“The need to deter others is especially strong in cases involving domestic terrorism, which the breach of the Capitol certainly was,” Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said before the sentencing, according to the Washington Post.
Hodgkins was identified from videos and photo taken inside the Capitol and later admitted to being there when questioned by the FBI.
He told investigators he took a bus from Tampa to Washington, D.C., to take part in the riot. Hodgkins could face 15 to 21 months in prison and a fine between $7,500 and $75,000, as well as be required to pay $2,000 in restitution.
Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia were requesting a mid-range sentence.
Clad in a “Trump 2020” T-shirt Hodgkins carried a Trump flag into the well of the Senate.
He was charged with a series of crimes, including those directly related to the fact they occurred in the Capitol building. He pleaded guilty last week to a single count of obstruction.
Sedky wrote Hodgkin’s actions were “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion” and eligible to be considered or a domestic terror enhancement that could have doubled his sentence.
However, prosecutors decided not to seek an enhancement for domestic terrorism despite recent comments from FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“That attack, that siege, was criminal behavior, plain and simple, and it’s behavior that we, the FBI, view as domestic terrorism,” Wray said, according to the Washington Post.
Wray also told the Senate that since the attack the violent extremism on Jan. 6 has been “metastasizing” in the country.
The case is being seen as a test for the others being charged for their actions on that day. Hodgkins stormed the Capitol along with some 800 others Jan. 6.
His is one of 500 indictments brought so far. Additional charges are expected for 100 other rioters who participated.
Last week, prosecutors asked charges against New York resident Chris Kelly, who was similarly charged with obstruction.
Hodgkins is only the second to plead guilty to charges from the riot. Jon Schaffer, a member of Oath Keepers, is the other.
The first sentencing came in June for misdemeanor trespass.