TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa man who took a selfie in the Senate Chamber during the U.S. Capitol riot has pleaded guilty in connection to massive Department of Justice investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection.
On Wednesday morning, 38-year-old Paul Hodgkins appeared at a virtual hearing before a federal judge in Washington, D.C. and pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing an official proceeding, according to court documents.
“He stood up and said, I’m not making any excuses, what happened was wrong and I’m wrong,” Hodgkins defense attorney Patrick Leduc said. “He’s pled guilty.”
Hodgkins, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, entered the U.S. Capitol with the mob of fellow Trump supporters who interrupted the certification of the 2020 electoral college results.
“He got swept up like everybody else, got caught in the moment and followed the crowd,” Leduc said. “He walked in and he walked out.”
Wearing a “Trump 2020” T-shirt and waving a Trump flag, he ventured into the Senate Chamber, took a “selfie” with his phone, then walked down to the Senate well, where several rioters, including Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon Shaman,” were shouting, praying and cheering through a bullhorn.
An acquaintance saw the selfie and contacted the FBI. Hodgkins later admitted he took a bus from Florida to D.C. and that he was inside the Capitol, the FBI said.
“People don’t take selfies of themselves if they think they’re doing something at that moment that may be criminal,” Leduc said.
Leduc described his client as a working class man from Sulfur Springs who holds a job in constructions and volunteers at a food pantry and animal shelter. He had no criminal history prior to Jan. 6.
Hodgkins was arrested on five counts of obstructing an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building. He pleaded guilty to the lone count of obstructing a government proceeding in exchange for the other charges being dropped.
Federal guidelines call for Hodgkins to be sentenced between 15 to 21 months in prison, but Leduc said he is hopeful his client will receive a more lenient sentence.
Of more than 450 federal defendants charged nationwide, Leduc said his client will be the first to learn his punishment at sentencing in Washington, D.C. on July 19.
“I think the United States Attorney that’s handled this case has treated us completely fairly,” Leduc said.
As part of the plea deal, Hodgkins has also agreed to pay $2,000 in restitution toward the nearly $1.5 million in damage done to the U.S. Capitol.