A Tampa man is one of the first people to plead guilty to a criminal charge related to the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.
Paul Allard Hodgkins admitted Wednesday to a single count of obstruction of an official proceeding, which is related to his activities during the riots. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop several other charges.
Hodgkins, 38, was arrested Feb. 16 after FBI agents said they identified him in pictures and video footage from the Capitol on Jan. 6. He was released on $25,000 bail shortly after his arrest. He will remain free as he awaits sentencing, which is set to occur next month in Washington, D.C.
Federal sentencing guidelines suggest Hodgkins could receive a penalty that would range between 15 and 21 months in prison.
As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to pay a fine of $2,000, representing a portion of the more than $1.5 million in damage authorities estimate the rioters caused. He also could be ordered to pay a fine ranging from $7,500 and $75,000.
Hodgkins appeared by teleconference with Tampa attorney Patrick Leduc before U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss. The judge asked a lengthy series of standard questions to ensure Hodgkins understood that he was giving up his right to a trial.
A prosecutor described the riots, which happened as Congress and former Vice President Mike Pence were certifying the 2020 electoral college results.
Hodgkins was among a crowd of hundreds who breached the building, disrupting the proceedings. He was later photographed amid a smaller group that managed to get inside the evacuated Senate chamber.
In a court document, an FBI agent described receiving a confidential tip from someone who knew Hodgkins. The tipster provided a photo that came from the social media site Parler and appeared to show Hodgkins in the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The agent compared the selfie to Hodgkins’ driver’s license photo and said they appeared to be the same person. The photo appears to show Hodgkins in the Capitol wearing safety goggles under his chin and a dark-colored “Trump” shirt with white letters.
Video footage from the New Yorker magazine also appeared to show Hodgkins in the well of the Senate chamber, waving a red “Trump 2020″ flag next to an elevated desk surrounded by others who were chanting, shouting and praying. He was wearing the “Trump” t-shirt, leather armbands and a dark undershirt, according to court records.
Hodgkins also appeared to put on latex gloves while standing near a pile of papers on a desk in the Senate Chambers.
In court, he clarified that the gloves came from a first-aid kit he carried in a backpack. He said he put them on to render aid to a man who was sitting on the Senate floor, bleeding from a wound in his cheek. The man refused medical attention.
He stood by as the group prayed. At the end, he raised a flag in salute before leaving the Senate chamber.
On Jan. 26, the FBI interviewed Hodgkins, who said he was the man in the photographs and that he had been in the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, according to court records. He traveled alone from Florida to Washington, D.C., on a bus and saw vandalism, injured people and a knife fight while in the Capitol, according to the FBI. He did not participate in breaking windows or fighting, court records indicate.
More than 400 defendants nationwide have been charged in the District of Columbia in connection with the riots and prosecutors have begun to offer plea deals.
A grand jury originally indicted Hodgkins on charges of obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol Building and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol Building.