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Tampa man sentenced to 8 months in prison for role in Capitol riots

Paul Hodgkins: ‘It was a foolish decision’

FILE - In this file image from U.S. Capitol Police video, Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, of Tampa, Fla., front, stands in the well on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (U.S. Capitol Police via AP, File)
FILE - In this file image from U.S. Capitol Police video, Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, of Tampa, Fla., front, stands in the well on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (U.S. Capitol Police via AP, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Tampa man who was accused of breaching the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag was sentenced to eight months in prison on Monday -- the first Jan. 6 arrestee sentenced for a felony.

Paul Hodgkins, 38, pleaded guilty last month to one count of obstructing an official proceeding in one of the first plea agreements made with federal prosecutors.

Video footage shows Hodgkins, 38, inside the Senate, wearing a Trump 2020 T-shirt, a flag flung over his shoulder and eye goggles around his neck. He took a selfie with a self-described shaman in a horned helmet and other rioters on the dais behind him.

During Monday’s court hearing, Hodgkins spoke to the judge on his own behalf, calling his actions on Jan. 6 a “foolish decision.”

He said since his arrest – the first in his life – he has given up drinking alcohol, donated blood and started volunteering at a local animal shelter.

He said he also started behavioral health therapy.

“What happened on Jan. 6 has weighed heavily on my conscience,” Hodgkins said.

Prosecutors wanted Hodgkins to serve 18 months, saying what happened on Jan. 6 was a “grave danger to our democracy.”

They claimed he left Tampa in January prepared for a conflict with rubber gloves, rope and goggles in his backpack.

They also gave him credit for being among the first to offer a guilty plea.

His attorney, however, campaigned to the judge for more than 45 minutes, making a case for a shorter sentence.

In the end, Judge Randolph Moss sentenced him to eight months in prison, 24 months supervised release and $2,000 in restitution.

Hodgkins is one of 55 Floridians arrested and charged in connection with the riot in Washington, D.C.


About the Authors:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.