Sandra Lee Hodges, 61, occupied a Senate office at one point that day with far-right “celebrity” Anthime “Baked Alaska” Gionet—but she insists she was simply “sucked into the building” by the angry mob, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in Washington, D.C. federal court.
On the way back out, the feds say Hodges dropped the key card to her hotel room, which subsequently led law enforcement directly to her front door.
Hodges, who is licensed as a registered nurse, does not yet have an attorney listed in court records. A call on Thursday to her personal cellphone went straight to voicemail.
According to the complaint, Hodges drove to D.C. on Jan. 5 from her home in the town of Hertford, along the way picking up a new online friend (whose name she later claimed not to remember) in Virginia Beach. When they arrived, Hodges checked them both into the swanky Mandarin Oriental, the complaint says.
“Hodges planned to attend President Trump’s speech the following morning,” it goes on. “However, Hodges claimed that she woke up late and when she left the hotel to walk to the speech, she encountered a large group of people who told her the speech was over and everyone was headed to the U.S. Capitol building to protest.”
At about 2:12 p.m., a MAGA-hatted Hodges joined the swelling crowd in the West Plaza of the Capitol grounds, the complaint continues. It says Hodges made her way to a line of police barricades as officers sprayed the encroaching throng with tear gas. Hodges responded by yelling, “Freedom!” at the cops, according to the complaint, which describes Trump supporters “wrestling over barricades and law enforcement deploying crowd control methods against aggressive rioters.”
Shortly before 3 p.m., Hodges entered the Capitol building itself, through the Senate Wing Door, soon “disappearing into the crowd,” the complaint states. A few minutes later, Hodges can be seen on a livestream being broadcast from Sen. Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) “hideaway office” by Gionet, who last year was sentenced to two months in prison for his participation in the siege.
As Hodges sat on Merkley’s couch drinking a can of Coca-Cola, the complaint says Gionet “picked up a phone and stated performatively, ‘Hello, U.S. Senate, we have a fraudulent election I would like to report. Yeah, we need to get our boy Donald J. Trump in office…’ After another rioter stated, ‘Get Pence on the phone!,’ Gionet responded, ‘Yeah, get Mike Pence on the phone.’”
Hodges then walked into a nearby Senate conference room and, “[a]s depicted on the Gionet Video, Hodges banged her fist on a table… as the crowd chanted, ‘America First,’” the complaint states. Gionet “warned others not to break anything,” according to the complaint, which says Hodges replied, “I’m not breaking anything. This is our house.”
Hodges spent approximately 40 minutes inside the Capitol, then left via the Memorial Door at 3:33 p.m., according to the complaint.
On Jan. 9, 2021, the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) “recovered a key card belonging to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on the West Plaza of the U.S. Capitol Building, near the media tower, during clean-up efforts related to the attack,” the complaint says. “USCP subsequently obtained records from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel associated with the key card pursuant to legal process,” it continues. “The records revealed that the keycard was linked to a reservation made by ‘Sandy Hodges,’ with a particular phone number ending in 5575… for January 5 through January 7, 2021.”
From there, it was a simple task to place Hodges’ cellphone inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, using location data subpoenaed from Verizon, according to the complaint. On April 6, 2023, FBI agents interviewed Hodges at her home, where she admitted to having entered the Capitol two years prior.
“Hodges stated that she became swallowed by the crowd [leaving the “Stop the Steal” rally] and walked with them to the U.S. Capitol building,” the complaint says. “Once there, Hodges claimed to have been ‘sucked into the building.’”
Inside, Hodges told the agents “that she walked around briefly before entering two separate rooms and sat down in the second room, where she saw someone rip something off a wall,” according to the complaint. “Hodges claimed that she realized that something was not right at that point and decided to leave.”
Hodges is now facing four misdemeanor counts: entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a capitol building, and parading, picketing, and demonstrating in a capitol building.