A San Diego County man who pleaded guilty to taking part in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol building was sentenced Monday to 30 days in custody and two years of probation.
Philip James Weisbecker entered the plea, to a federal misdemeanor, for joining the mob that entered the Capitol building early in 2021. Weisbecker lived in Ocean Beach at the time, but now lives in Dulzura, according to court documents.
According to an arrest warrant declaration, anonymous tipsters contacted authorities saying they knew Weisbecker and provided photographic evidence of him being present inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Weisbecker also posted a screenshot on his Facebook page from a Fox News program that showed him inside the U.S. Capitol, according to the declaration.
Court documents state that he later told a law enforcement officer that he traveled from San Diego to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5 to take part in the “Stop the Steal Protest” as a “citizen journalist.”
He and a group of other people reached the outer offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Weisbecker spent about an hour inside the Capitol, according to court documents.
He claimed in separate interviews with police that he did not believe Joe Biden to be the “legitimate president” and that any damage to the building had been caused by “Antifa” as part of a false flag operation.
According to a sentencing memorandum from Weisbecker’s attorney, her client was influenced by conspiracy theories regarding election fraud forwarded by former President Donald Trump and others.
“People like Mr. Weisbecker stood no chance at truly grasping the gravity or reality of the situation,” according to attorney Kira Anne West, who stated that Weisbecker did not get violent and only hoped “to witness and document the protest.”
In a letter to the sentencing judge, Weisbecker wrote that he was remorseful and has been “in deep mourning” since Jan. 6.
The sentencing was held remotely by U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan in Washington D.C. During the hearing, Weisbecker told the court, “I did not enter that building with negative intentions. I did not enter that building to cause problems for anybody.”
Hogan said he did not consider Weisbecker likely to re-offend, but disagreed with contentions that Weisbecker was at the Capitol as a neutral observer.
“You were part of this. You played a role in it, and you helped publicize it, I think, incorrectly as a peaceful demonstration,” Hogan said just before imposing the sentence.
Weisbecker’s 30-day term is a sentence of intermittent confinement, meaning he can serve the sentence in separate intervals of time totaling 30 days.
Other San Diego County residents charged in connection with Jan. 6 include former Coronado resident Jeffrey Alexander Smith, who was sentenced to a three-month prison term.
Carlsbad resident James McGrew, who pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement officers at the Capitol. McGrew is slated to be sentenced in October.
– City News Service