A Florida man who breached the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag became the first Jan. 6 rioter sentenced for a felony. Paul Allard Hodgkins was given an eight-month prison sentence during a hearing Monday.
The hearing Monday in Washington is expected to help set a benchmark for punishment in similar cases — those who stand accused of participating in the riot and breaching the building, but not the organization of the conspiracy.
Prosecutors wanted Paul Allard Hodgkins to serve 18 months behind bars, saying he and other rioters "contributed to the collective threat to democracy." But a lawyer for Hodgkins asked a federal judge not to impose a prison sentence, saying the shame that will attach to Hodgkins should be factored in as punishment.
"Whatever punishment this court may provide will pale in comparison to the scarlet letter Mr. Hodgkins will wear for the rest of his life," Patrick N. Leduc wrote in a recent filing, citing a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel in which a woman accused of adultery is forced to wear a letter "A."
Hodgkins was never accused of assaulting anyone or damaging property. But video footage showed Hodgkins inside the Senate chamber shortly after lawmakers had been evacuated. Hodgkins also took selfies in the chamber with Jake Angeli, a shirtless protester who wore face paint and a horned helmet and has since become known as the "QAnon Shaman."
Hodgkins' lawyers said his actions were similar to those of Anna Morgan Lloyd, an Indiana woman who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct for her role in the riot last month and was given three years probation. Prosecutors believe Hodgkins deserves a lengthier sentence because he breached the Senate chamber, unlike Lloyd.