On Monday, a man from Tampa, Florida, was sentenced to 8 months in prison and fined $2,000 for his participation in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.
At the time of the riot, which was aimed at disrupting the certification process of the 2020 presidential election, 38-year-old Paul Hodgkins spent 15 minutes in the Senate taking pictures and waving the American flag in support of former President Donald Trump, USA Today reports.
U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss, who handed down the sentence, contended that waving the flag for Trump was an unmistakable sign of loyalty to one person instead of the entire country.
"Although Mr. Hodgkins was only one member of a larger mob, he actively and intentionally participated in an event that threatened not only the security of the Capitol but democracy itself," Moss said. "That is chilling, for many reasons."
Hodgkins, who previously pled guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding, asked the judge for no prison time. The defendant explained that he had no plans to enter the Capitol building on the day of the attack but claimed that he got swept up in a march heading down Pennsylvania Avenue.
After making his way inside the Capitol, Hodgkins claimed that he apologized to police officers and provided medical care to an injured rioter.
"I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions in Washington," Hodgkins said. "This was a foolish decision on my part that I take full responsibility for it."
While Moss did not view Hodgkins as a "threat" or an "inherently evil person," the judge said that Hodgkins "knew what he was doing" on the day of the riot.
"He was one of a small number of people who made their way to the Senate floor," he added.
"It is essential to send a message that this type of conduct is utterly unacceptable, and that grave damage was done to our country that day," Moss contended.
Hodgkins' sentence is shorter than the 18-month sentence suggested by assistant U.S. attorney Mona Sedky. Hodgkins, who has no prior criminal background, was the first to plead guilty in the attack in the nation's capital.
Unlike the other rioters, however, he did not directly engage in violence or destroyed property.
Nevertheless, Hodgkins was ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution for his involvement in the insurrection on January 6.
Last month, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that over 500 people involved in the Capitol riot were arrested, including the 100th arrest of a defendant charged with assaulting a federal law enforcement officer.
"I could not be more proud of the extraordinary effort by investigators and prosecutors to hold accountable those who engaged in criminal acts that day," Garland said in a statement.
"Particular credit goes to those serving as prosecutors and agents in Washington, D.C., as well as those in FBI field offices and U.S. Attorney's Offices across the country, and with the Department's National Security Division," he continued.
He noted that the Justice Dept. received more than "200,000 digital tips" from the American public, which helped bring forth the criminal charges.
"I assure the American people that the Department of Justice will continue to follow the facts in this case and charge what the evidence supports to hold all January 6 perpetrators accountable," Merland asserts.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jon Cherry/Stringer
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.