A man who wore goggles and carried a Trump flag into the Senate chamber on January 6 as the US Capitol was overrun with rioters became the second riot defendant to plead guilty on Wednesday, setting the tone for what may come as more of the hundreds of cases head toward being resolved in court.
Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, of Florida, pleaded guilty to one felony count of obstructing an official proceeding.
He admitted to taking selfies as he walked around desks in the Senate chamber, had worn protective goggles and gloves, and at one point tried to help another injured rioter with first aid. He had come to the Trump rally in DC by bus, prosecutors said.
Hodgkins originally faced five charges related to him entering the Capitol and the Justice Department dropped all but the most severe of the counts.
He faces a likely 15 to 21 months in prison, and could face thousands of dollars in fines as well, according to his plea hearing on Wednesday. He’s already agreed to pay $2,000 in restitution, according to lawyers in the case.
The judge who accepted his guilty plea on Wednesday, Judge Randolph Moss, will have broad discretion to set his sentence.
The obstruction charge he has pleaded guilty to carries a maximum 20 years in prison, though judges almost never sentence defendants to the maximum amount.
Still, the resolution of Hodgkins’ case sends a signal for other riot defendants that prosecutors may not be willing to significantly reduce charges for those who entered the Capitol building.
Many of the Capitol riot defendants are already engaged in plea talks, and, as is typical in the criminal justice system, a large proportion are expected to plead guilty.
Previously, the Justice Department cut a deal for an Oath Keeper founder to cooperate, the first plea deal in the insurrection investigation.
Hodgkins isn’t cooperating as part of his plea deal, according to his lawyer and the court filings describing his deal.
He does get some likely leniency from prosecutors heading into his sentencing, for accepting responsibility for his crime and for agreeing to plead guilty quickly, without forcing the case closer to trial, according to his plea documents made public Wednesday.
Also this week, the Justice Department dropped a case against a man they initially believed had gone into the Capitol, though photos only showed him standing outside, several hundred feet away from the building, on January 6.
This story has been updated with additional details and context.