Capitol rioter sentenced to eight months in prison appears on the verge of tears

Paul Hodgkins pleaded guilty to a count of obstructing an official proceeding for storming the Capitol on Janury 6

The first person sentenced to hard time for playing a role in the January 6 Capitol riot was seen saying an emotional farewell to his girlfriend just a day after he admitted his guilt in court.

Both Paul Hodgkins and the unidentified woman appeared on the verge of tears as he left his home in Tampa, Florida, 24 hours after getting the news that he has to serve a prison sentence.

Hodgkins, a 38-year-old crane operator, was back home after his hearing in Washington D.C. where he admitted to a felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding — Congress’s certification of Joe Biden’s election as president.

He received an eight-month sentence and was ordered to pay $2,000 restitution. Prosecutors had asked for 18 months, his defense called for no prison time. The maximum sentence was 20 years.

In return for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped charges of entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct.

Paul Hodgkins pleaded guilty to a count of obstructing an official proceeding for storming the Capitol on Janury 6

DailyMail.com spotted Hodgkins and an unidentified woman on the verge of tears as he left his home in Tampa, Florida

DailyMail.com spotted Hodgkins and an unidentified woman on the verge of tears as he left his home in Tampa, Florida

Hodgkins was seen saying an emotional farewell to his girlfriend just a day after he admitted his guilt in court

Hodgkins was seen saying an emotional farewell to his girlfriend just a day after he admitted his guilt in court

The unidentified woman appeard emotional as she and Hodgkins parted ways

The unidentified woman appeard emotional as she and Hodgkins parted ways

The unidentified woman, seen in a floral sun dress, appeard emotional as she and Hodgkins parted ways 

Hodgkins was wearing a black T-shirt adverting Steadfast Brand, a clothing company that specializes in 'tattoo art' clothing

Hodgkins was wearing a black T-shirt adverting Steadfast Brand, a clothing company that specializes in 'tattoo art' clothing

Hodgkins was wearing a black T-shirt adverting Steadfast Brand, a clothing company that specializes in ‘tattoo art’ clothing

Massachusetts-born Hodgkins was seen leaving his modest rented home in the working-class Sulphur Springs area of Tampa and driving off in his white Ford truck, festooned with a decals for two separate NFL teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots, as well as the American flag.

Hodgkins took a selfie in the US Senate after breaching the building while dressed in a 'Trump 2020' shirt

Hodgkins took a selfie in the US Senate after breaching the building while dressed in a ‘Trump 2020’ shirt 

He was wearing a black T-shirt adverting Steadfast Brand, a clothing company that specializes in ‘tattoo art’ clothing. His girlfriend wore a floral summer dress.

Hodgkins is not expected to start serving his sentence for another 60 days, his attorney Paul Leduc told DailyMail.com. Although nothing is set in stone, he is likely to serve his time in Coleman Penitentiary, a high security federal prison 60 miles north of Tampa.

During Monday’s hearing, Hodgkins said he was ashamed of his actions on January 6 and said he got caught up in the excitement of the moment.

‘If I had any idea that the protest … would escalate (the way) it did … I would never have ventured farther than the sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue,’ he told Judge Randolph Moss.

‘This was a foolish decision on my part.’

But the government filing argued that he could have stopped before entering the Capitol. ‘Time and time again, rather than turn around and retreat, Hodgkins pressed forward,’ it read.

Hodgkins had traveled alone from Tampa to Washington by bus, carrying a rope, protective goggles and latex gloves — which prosecutors said proved he was prepared for violence. He was pictured inside the Senate Chamber wearing the goggles and gloves.

At the time he sported a full beard, although he is now clean shaven. He still has his shoulder-length hair which was tied in a ponytail when he left his house.

Video footage shows Hodgkins inside the Senate, wearing a Trump 2020 T-shirt, and an American flag flung over his shoulder. He took a selfie with bare-chested ‘QAnon shaman’ Jacob Chansley who wore a horned helmet.

Hodgkins has no prior criminal record and was not accused of assaulting anyone or damaging property inside the Capitol building.

In this image from US Capitol Police video, Hodgkins stands in the well on the floor of the US Senate on January 6. Hodgkins was sentenced on Monday to eight months in prison

In this image from US Capitol Police video, Hodgkins stands in the well on the floor of the US Senate on January 6. Hodgkins was sentenced on Monday to eight months in prison 

Hodgkins apologized for his actions during the riot. He said he was ashamed of his actions, claiming he got caught up in the excitement of the moment

Hodgkins apologized for his actions during the riot. He said he was ashamed of his actions, claiming he got caught up in the excitement of the moment

Hodgkins, pictured in the US Senate chamber on January 6, pleaded guilty in June for one count of obstructing an official proceeding

Hodgkins, pictured in the US Senate chamber on January 6, pleaded guilty in June for one count of obstructing an official proceeding

Leduc told DailyMail.com that while he was happy that the judge gave him less than half the recommended sentence, he worries about his client’s future.

‘This is a guy who made a judgment error,’ the attorney said. ‘He followed the crowd. How many kids have done that?’

‘He recognized very early that he had made a mistake and the prosecution admitted as much.

‘But now he has been sentenced to eight months in prison. He will probably be out in four or five, but then what? Will he have a job to go to? Will he still have a house to live in?

‘People say he should have gotten 10 years. In a way that may have been more merciful. Right now, he is trying to work out what his employers are going to do with him.

‘It could be financially devastating for him.’

Leduc described Hodgkins as a hard-working blue-collar high school graduate who lives paycheck-to-paycheck in one of Tampa’s lowest income neighborhoods. He said he was an Eagle Scout who regularly volunteers at a food bank.

A clean-shaven Hodgkins is seen leaving court on Monday following the sentencing hearing

A clean-shaven Hodgkins is seen leaving court on Monday following the sentencing hearing 

Records show that his one-bedroom apartment was last offered for rent at $775 a month.

He was a registered Independent until the 2018 midterm elections when he became a Republican. He took advantage of early voting in both the 2018 and 2020 elections.

The Justice Department believes Hodgkins’s sentencing could set a bar for others involved in the Capitol insurrection. In a filing urging an 18-month sentence, Special U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky wrote: ‘The need to deter others is especially strong in cases involving domestic terrorism, which the breach of the Capitol certainly was.’

She also urged Judge Moss to recognize that the beliefs of people involved in the attack on Congress make them ‘unique among criminals in the likelihood of recidivism.’

So far around 500 people have been charged for their part in the riot with charges expected against another 100

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