A federal judge has handed down the first felony sentence in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, sending a Tampa man to prison for eight months for obstructing Congress’ effort to tabulate and certify the electoral vote.
The sentence Paul Hodgkins, 38, received Monday for marching onto the Senate floor with a Trump flag during the chaotic Capitol takeover was less than half of what prosecutors recommended, but U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss also declined the defense’s request that Hodgkins get no prison time.
As he imposed the sentence, Moss said Hodgkins sent a profound and dangerous message by raising the Trump flag by the Senate dais at the hour members of Congress were supposed to be confirming President Joe Biden’s victory
“The symbolism of that act is unmistakable,” the judge said. “In that act, he captured the threat to democracy that we all witnessed that day. … People have to know that assaulting the United States Capitol and impeding the democratic process, even if you don’t come bearing arms, will have consequences.”
Coming a little more than six months after a crowd loyal to former President Donald Trump battled with police and overran the Capitol building in a bid to head off the confirmation of Biden’s win, the sentencing represents a milestone for the sprawling criminal investigation that has already led to charges against more than 535 people. [Continue reading…]