The first insurrection felony sentence is here, and nobody's happy about it
Florida man Paul Allard Hodgkins secured his spot in the history books Monday, becoming the first person to be sentenced for a felony stemming from his participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Hodgkins, 38, will spent the next eight months in federal prison, after pleading guilty in June to a single felony count of obstructing an official proceeding.
Prior to Monday's sentence, Hodgkins had faced years in prison — the obstruction charge to which he pleaded comes with a maximum of 20 years behind bars — with prosecutors pushing Judge Randolph Moss to impose a sentence in the range of 15 to 21 months. Conversely, defense attorney Patrick Leduc had requested his client spend zero time incarcerated, claiming Hodgkins was a "law-abiding, hardworking, honest, caring, kind, thoughtful, generous, and the kind of person you would want for a neighbor" who simply "lost his bearings and his way" on Jan. 6.
Hodgkins had initially been indicted by a grand jury on five separate counts, after he'd been filmed wandering through the Senate chamber on Jan. 6 waving a "Trump 2020" flag and wearing a "Trump 2020" shirt, as well as gloves and goggles. According to the FBI, Hodgkins had also posted a selfie to the far-right social network Parler, in which the separately indicted "Q Shaman" is clearly visible in his now-iconic furs and horns.
Before his sentence was handed down, Hodgkins apologized to Moss, telling the court that "I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions, not because I face consequences but because of the damage that day's incident caused and the way this country that I love has been hurt."
Despite his denying the prosecutorial team the full sentence they'd requested, Moss made clear that Hodgkins's upcoming time in prison is a result not only of his own actions, but of participating in a broader effort to subvert the country as a whole.
"Although you were only one member of a larger mob, you actively participated in a larger event that threatened the Capitol and democracy itself," Moss said during the sentencing hearing. "The damage that was caused that way was way beyond a several-hour delay of the vote certification," Moss added. "It is a damage that will persist in this country for several decades."
"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," Moss continued at another point during his remarks, nevertheless concluding that because Hodgkins's plea came "exceptionally early," he deserved some measure of leniency.
With Hodgkins now sentenced, all eyes turn to the hundreds of other Capitol insurrectionists who face similar charges, including more than 200 who are accused of the exact same allegation of obstruction. And while each case is its own discrete legal incident, if Hodgkins's sentence — too much according to him, too little according to the government — is instructive of anything, it's that no one will be happy with how things appear to be shaking out.