Decatur man pleads to Jan. 6 charge, but gun charges loom

Matthew J. Webler, a contractor from Decatur, will serve up to six months in prison for his role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, but faces a much longer sentence for what authorities discovered when they arrested him.

Webler, 43, appeared via videoconference in U.S. District Court Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to plead guilty to one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, a misdemeanor charge that carries a possible penalty of six months in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. He will be sentenced in May.

Webler admitted to Judge Dabney Friedrich that he entered the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot by climbing through a broken window. Investigators identified Webler on security camera videos at various spots inside the building by his bright yellow jacket, cowboy hat and a QAnon flag he wore as a cape. He also posted about his entry into the Capitol on social media, boasting in one selfie video, “It’s my birthday, and it’s the best one ever,” according to court records.

But while his negotiated guilty plea ends his legal trouble in Washington, he faces more serious charges in Georgia. According to court records, when investigators searched his home on Shamrock Drive near Decatur, they discovered a hand-built, short-barreled rifle, three silencers and ammunition.

Possession of an unregistered firearm and the unregistered silencers each carry a possible 10-year federal prison sentence. Federal law requires rifles with barrels less than 16 inches in length and silencers to be registered with the ATF. Failure to do so is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors also added a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, which also carries a 10-year penalty. Webler was convicted of aggravated assault and auto theft in 2000 and burglary in Gwinnett County in 2012 and 2015 and was on probation at the time of his arrest.

In the hearing, Webler told Friedrich that he understood his negotiated guilty plea on the Jan. 6 charge isn’t the end of his legal woes.

“Right,” Webler said. “They are separate cases.”

Webler attended the hearing from federal detention in Atlanta where he has been held without bond since his arrest on Dec. 2. Federal prosecutors argued against bond for Webler, citing his possession of the firearm and silencers and a “history of drug and alcohol abuse,” noting that investigators found “a small amount of methamphetamine” in his car. They also cited his “expressed contempt for federal firearms laws.”

In her detention order from December, U.S. Magistrate Linda Walker in Atlanta agreed that Webler posed a danger to the community and is a flight risk. In her written remarks, Walker wrote Webler had access to cash, “a substantial amount of cryptocurrency” and used a virtual private network for his computer “traceable to Poland.”

Webler is the sixth Georgia defendant in the riot to plead guilty.