Former Ocean Beach man sentenced to 30 days in prison for Capitol breach
A former Ocean Beach man was sentenced June 27 to 30 days in prison for his part in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Philip Weisbecker, 51, pleaded guilty in March to one misdemeanor count of parading or demonstrating in the Capitol. He is among a handful of people with San Diego ties who have been charged or linked to the Capitol breach and the resulting riot.
During a virtual hearing in Washington, D.C., where the federal prosecution is based, Weisbecker’s attorney argued for a sentence of time served. Prosecutors asked for three months in prison. The judge settled on 30 days, which can be served intermittently on weekends if desired, along with two years’ probation.
Weisbecker already had agreed to pay $500 in restitution as part of his plea agreement to help cover damage to the Capitol.
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Weisbecker had flown to Washington from San Diego to attend a Jan. 6 rally in support of then-President Donald Trump. He then followed the crowd to the Capitol and went inside. He said he was there as a citizen journalist and admitted to entering the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and taking pictures in the Rotunda.
He was not accused of any destructive or violent acts.
Weisbecker posted on social media a screenshot from Fox News of him inside the Capitol. The FBI was tipped to his involvement, launching the investigation.
Prosecutors pointed to Weisbecker’s actions upon returning home as aggravating factors.
“Weisbecker celebrated the violence of the day after Jan. 6 by posting pictures and video of the protesters on the scaffolding and in restricted areas,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. “He repeatedly asserted on Facebook that the media was lying and downplayed the violence of the day, blaming it on Black Lives Matter and Antifa while falsely claiming those entities and Capitol Police officers let him inside the Capitol.”
Prosecutors also noted Weisbecker’s history of verbally abusive behavior toward federal officials, including during inspections at ports of entry and in an April encounter with TSA agents at San Diego International Airport in which he called them “monkeys” and other names.
Weisbecker, who is an estimator for construction projects, apologized for his actions in a letter to the judge. However, during the hearing the judge suggested the two-page letter seemed to be an attempt to minimize the crime.
“I take complete responsibility for my actions of participating as a citizen journalist that entered the Capitol building at a time that was not open to the public for journalists,” Weisbecker wrote. “I failed to grasp the seriousness of my physical presence at the event. I am extremely remorseful for my actions and miss being a free American.”
Weisbecker used to live in Ocean Beach but now resides in Dulzura near the U.S.-Mexico border.