US Capitol rioter who stormed Senate floor reports to prison while trying to undo his felony guilty plea

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The first January 6 rioter to be sentenced for a felony reported to prison on Monday to serve his eight-month sentence, while mounting a longshot legal bid to undo his guilty plea.
(CNN)

Paul Hodgkins of Florida stormed the US Capitol during the pro-Trump insurrection and was one of the few dozen rioters who breached the Senate floor shortly after it was evacuated. He pleaded guilty to obstructing the congressional certification of Joe Biden's victory and was sentenced to eight months in prison.

But as his surrender date drew closer, Hodgkins fired his veteran attorney, hired a new one who only passed the bar last year and launched an effort to unwind his guilty plea and reduce his prison term -- even though the judge's eight-month sentence was far less than the Justice Department's 1.5-year recommendation.

The about-face from Hodgkins comes as other rioters grapple with accepting responsibility and amid increasing efforts by Republicans to rewrite the history of January 6. Protesters returned to Capitol grounds on Saturday in support of the few dozen rioters who are in jail before trial. And prominent right-wing figures are still flooding the zone with disinformation about the insurrection.

Hodgkins, 38, turned himself in on Monday and is now in prison, his attorney said. The lawyer refused to say where Hodgkins is serving his sentence, citing fears for his safety. The Bureau of Prisons website that lists all federal inmates hasn't been updated yet with Hodgkins' information.

"The circling blood-thirsty sharks can feast," Hodgkins' defense attorney Carolyn Stewart told CNN in an email Monday. "The haters can rejoice, while the prayers of all others are welcome."

11th-hour moves

Hodgkins' then-attorney Col. Patrick Leduc delivered a rambling but passionate 30-minute speech at the July 19 sentencing, touching on everything from Abraham Lincoln to "cancel culture."

The unconventional approach may have paid off. Even though the federal guidelines called for roughly one to two years behind bars, District Judge Randolph Moss settled at eight months, in part because Hodgkins "accepted responsibility and pled guilty…
Marshall Cohen, CNN
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