WASHINGTON — A Florida man who was photographed carrying a large red "Trump 2020" flag inside the Senate chamber during the Capitol riot pleaded guilty Wednesday to reduced charges.
Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, of Tampa was arrested Feb. 16 after the FBI said it received a tip identifying him among the hundreds seen in photos and videos inside the Capitol.
Appearing by videoconference Wednesday, Hodgkins pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. In exchange, the government agreed to drop four other felony charges.
Hodgkins will be sentenced in July. If he is ordered to serve time in prison, he is likely to face far less than the statutory maximum. Federal District Court Judge Randolph Moss said the range under federal guidelines would be between one and two years in prison.
The FBI said he put on a pair of latex gloves when the entered the Senate, then took them off. During Wednesday's hearing, Hodgkins told the judge he put them on to render first aid to another person who was injured and was bleeding.
It was the first of what could be dozens if not hundreds of similar guilty pleas among the nearly 500 prosecutions resulting from the Jan. 6 Capitol siege.
It was not, however, the first guilty plea stemming from the riot. An Indiana man accused of being a founding member of the far-right militia group Oath Keepers, Jon Schaffer, pleaded guilty in April to entering the Capitol while wearing a tactical vest and armed with bear spray. He agreed to cooperate with investigators.
The Hodgkins plea includes no such obligation to cooperate with the investigation. He benefits from the reduced charges, and the government is spared the need to proceed to a trial.
In other court hearings, prosecutors have said they are beginning to engage in plea talks with some defendants, including other members of the Oath Keepers.
The hundreds of other cases are moving slowly through the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Prosecutors have received permission to depart from normal deadlines under the Speedy Trial Act, citing the enormous amount of work needed to sort through thousands of photos, videos, and public tips.