Ex-Ocean Beach man pleads guilty in storming of U.S. Capitol
A former Ocean Beach man pleaded guilty to his role in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, admitting to entering the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and taking pictures in the Rotunda.
Philip James Weisbecker, 50, pleaded guilty March 3 to one misdemeanor count of parading or demonstrating in the Capitol during a virtual hearing in Washington, D.C., where the massive federal prosecution is based.
More than 750 people have been arrested in all, and more than 200 of them have pleaded guilty.
A sentencing hearing for Weisbecker has been set for Monday, June 27. He faces up to six months in prison.
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Weisbecker, a freelance construction estimator, was arrested in October following an investigation that began when tipsters contacted the FBI.
He has admitted to entering the Capitol with other people convinced that the 2020 presidential election had been “stolen” from then-President Donald Trump, despite a lack of evidence of widespread fraud.
On Facebook, Weisbecker posted a screenshot from Fox News of himself inside the Capitol, with the comment, “If you would like to know the truth .... just ask.”
In his plea agreement, Weisbecker admitted to entering the Capitol, going into Pelosi’s offices and then spending a considerable amount of time in the Rotunda. The judge noted there were no allegations tying him to violence or destruction.
In interviews with investigators, Weisbecker defended the rioters as “patriots” and described the event as a peaceful protest, according to the criminal complaint against him.
Investigators said in the complaint that a man believed to be Weisbecker — wearing a red-and-white floral Hawaiian shirt under a dark sports coat — could be seen in a video clip among a group in a chamber hallway, with another person in the background heard saying, “Drag him out.”
Weisbecker told investigators that he had traveled to Washington to document Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally as a citizen journalist, according to the complaint. Weisbecker claimed Trump was still the true president and that Ashli Babbitt — an Ocean Beach woman who was fatally shot by Capitol police during the riot — never existed, the document states.
Weisbecker also lived in Ocean Beach at the time and said he knew everyone in that community and had never heard of Babbitt, nor had his friends, and therefore she wasn’t a real person, the complaint states. Weisbecker told the judge that he now lives in San Diego County “next to the Mexican border.”
As part of the plea, Weisbecker agreed to pay $500 in restitution to help cover damage to the Capitol. He also agreed to allow law enforcement to meet with him before sentencing and review his social media posts from around the time of the breach and the instances when authorities interviewed him about the case.