July 26. 2021. 10:52

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Man becomes first US Capitol rioter to be sentenced to prison

The US Capitol building was attacked on January 6th. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images


A federal judge on Monday handed down an eight-month prison sentence to Floridian Paul Hodgkins for his role in the January 6th attack on the US Capitol, making him the first among hundreds of accused participants in the riot facing prosecution to be incarcerated.

Hodgkins (38) had pleaded guilty on June 2nd to obstruction of an official proceeding, as Congress was in the process of formally certifying Joe Biden’s election last November as US president when supporters of former president Donald Trump rampaged through the Capitol building on January 6th.

At a sentencing hearing in Washington, DC, on Monday, prosecutor Mona Sedky told US district judge Randolph Moss that Hodgkins, a Tampa resident, donned goggles before entering the Senate chamber during the riot and “proudly posed for selfies”, which he texted to friends.

Ms Sedky acknowledged that Hodgkins did not destroy any property “and he did not injure anyone”.

In a statement to the court, Hodgkins said he was “remorseful and regretful” for his actions in Washington and acknowledged that these actions may have emboldened others to engage in destructive acts.

“This was a foolish decision on my part that I take full responsibility for,” Hodgkins told the court.

Mr Justice Moss agreed that Hodgkins had not been violent, did not threaten anyone and did not organise the Capitol attack. But the judge said that Hodgkins went to the Capitol “to impede the certification of the election, and he admitted that he did so”.

The judge said that while he believes that Hodgkins’s participation in the riot was an “aberration in his life”, he also believed that the January 6th attack had “tarnished” US history and that it is necessary to deter future rioters.

More than 535 people have been charged with taking part in the attack, which followed false claims by Mr Trump that the November election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud.

While other accused January 6th rioters have entered guilty pleas, Hodgkins became the first to be sentenced to prison. – Reuters