Peaceful Capitol Protester Threatened With 20 Yrs In Prison For Taking Selfie And Praying On Senate Floor Takes Plea Deal

Chris Menahan
Jun. 04, 2021

Peaceful Jan 6 Capitol protester Paul Allard Hodgkins was maliciously overcharged by the feds with "obstructing an official proceeding of Congress" and faced 20 years in prison for the crime of taking a selfie on the Senate floor with others as they "cheered and said prayers."

Hodgkins only spent 15 minutes inside "the People's House" but after being threatened with two decades in prison he accepted a plea deal on Wednesday leaving him facing some "15 to 21 months [in prison] under federal guidelines."

From The Washington Post, "Tampa man pleads guilty to felony in Jan. 6 Capitol riot; his recommended prison sentence could set bar for other cases":
A Tampa man who carried a Trump flag into the well of the Senate on Jan. 6 pleaded guilty Wednesday to one felony count of storming the Capitol to obstruct Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, did not enter a cooperation deal with prosecutors, and he is not accused of any other wrongdoing or involvement with extremist groups.

In admitting to the stiffest felony count charged by prosecutors against individuals not otherwise accused of conspiracy or violence in the Capitol riot, Hodgkins faces a prison sentence of 15 to 21 months under federal guidelines. His sentencing is poised to become a test case watched by other defendants deciding whether to accept pleas, several defense lawyers said.

“I have decided that I will accept this plea offer, and I will plead guilty to charge one,” Hodgkins told U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss.

Hodgkins’s attorney, Patrick Leduc, said he would seek a lower sentence at a sentencing hearing as soon as July 19, and he asked the judge to waive a $7,500 to $75,000 fine because his client also agreed to pay $2,000 in restitution for his share of riot damage to the Capitol.

[...] “Paul is an Eagle Scout with no prior record, a working Joe who is a crane operator at a steel processing plant,” who spent 15 minutes inside the Capitol, Leduc said.

[...] Nearly half the defendants face only misdemeanor charges likely to carry no prison time for first offenders. However, about 200 are charged with obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and are accused of intending to impede or interfere with Congress’s confirmation of the electoral vote count. The charge carries a maximum 20-year prison term.

The threat of heavy jail time led to the first guilty plea stemming from Jan. 6 by Jon Ryan Schaffer, described in court documents as a founding member of the Oath Keepers. Schaffer agreed on April 16 to cooperate fully with prosecutors and is among at least 19 members of the right-wing group whose members or associates have been charged with planning for violence in the Capitol attack. Schaffer, 53, a guitarist and songwriter for the heavy metal band Iced Earth, could face roughly four years in prison, although if his cooperation is valuable to prosecutors in other cases, he might be able to shave a significant amount of time off that sentence.

[...] Hodgkins admitted that he “corruptly endeavored to influence, obstruct, or impede” Congress in a signed statement of offense that was read by prosecutors in court. Reading from the statement, Sedky said Hodgkins was holding the flag with other individuals while they “shout, cheer and say prayers” from the elevated platform and desk in the Senate well.
Overcharging drug dealers in the hood to extract plea deals is "systemic oppression" but overcharging folks like Hodgkins for taking a selfie and praying is "defending democracy!"

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