A Florida man who stormed the U.S. Capitol and stood on the Senate floor during the Jan. 6 insurrection has become the second person to plead guilty in the federal investigation into the deadly riot.
Paul Hodgkins entered his plea during a virtual hearing Wednesday in federal court in Washington. The 38-year-old was originally facing five charges, but under a deal negotiated with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing an official proceeding.
"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 Moss.
According to the statement of offense, Hodgkins entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 among the mob of Trump supporters. Hodgkins, wearing a dark blue shirt with "Trump" in white letters and carrying a red Trump 2020 flag, made his way through the crowd and onto the floor of the Senate chamber, where he stood with other rioters.
He was not accused of engaging in any violence.
Under the plea deal, the Justice Department has agreed to dismiss the four other counts against Hodgkins — unlawful entry and two disorderly conduct counts as well as one count of parading or picketing in the Capitol.
The single charge Hodgkins did plead guilty to carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, although he's unlikely to face anything near that.
Moss said the estimated sentencing guideline range for Hodgkins, based on his history, would be 15 to 21 months in prison, although the final decision is up to the judge.
A sentencing hearing has been tentatively set for July 19.
Hodgkins is just the second person to plead guilty of the more than 400 charged so far in the sprawling Capitol riot investigation. The first was a heavy metal musician who was also a founding member of the Oath Keepers extremist group.
Hodgkins' plea comes a day after a different sort of first in the Jan. 6 investigation — the first instance in which the Justice Department dropped its case against a Capitol riot defendant.
In a court filing Tuesday, prosecutors moved to dismiss their case against Christopher Kelly, who was arrested in January in New York and charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.
Prosecutors said in court papers that dropping the prosecution would serve "the interest of justice," but they did not provide any details.
Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui granted the government's request and dismissed the case.