Decatur man sentenced in Jan. 6 charge

Matthew Jay Webler, a 43-year-old contractor from Decatur, was sentenced to 45 days in prison for his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Photo: U.S. Department of Justice)

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Matthew Jay Webler, a 43-year-old contractor from Decatur, was sentenced to 45 days in prison for his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Photo: U.S. Department of Justice)

A Decatur man was ordered Tuesday to spend 45 days in jail for his role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, but he faces a much longer sentence if convicted of separate weapons charges that surfaced during the investigation.

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich in Washington, D.C., imposed the sentence on Matthew Webler, 43, following a nearly two-hour hearing via teleconference line from the federal detention center in Clayton County, where Webler has been in custody since December. Because he has served five months already, Webler is automatically credited with having served the 45 days.

Webler agreed in February to plead guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge for climbing through a broken window and wandering around the Capitol for about 20 minutes during the riot.

Webler’s attorney, Thomas Hawker, described his client’s role in the riot as “relatively peaceful” compared to other rioters and said he was just caught up in the excitement of the crowd.

“Should he have not walked through (the window)? Absolutely,” Hawker said. “ That’s why he is sitting in an orange jumpsuit in a jail south of town right now.”

Hawker is in custody while awaiting trial later this month on federal weapons charges that could result in a substantially longer prison sentence. According to court records, when investigators looking into his role in the Capitol riot 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.

Unlike most of the nearly 800 people arrested in the massive Capitol riot investigation, Webler has prior felony convictions. As a result he faces the added 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 convictions related to the theft of copper from a commercial building in Gwinnett County in 2011.

He was on probation from the theft convictions at the time of his arrest on the Capitol riot charge.

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A photo of metro Atlanta resident Matthew Jay Webler taken from an FBI affidavit.

A photo of metro Atlanta resident Matthew Jay Webler taken from an FBI affidavit.

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A photo of metro Atlanta resident Matthew Jay Webler taken from an FBI affidavit.

Hawker said his client maintained a peaceful attitude, “politely asking Capitol Police how to get out” and scolding other rioters who were damaging property.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Prout said Webler should not be rewarded for not breaking more laws. He knew he was not supposed to be there, she said.

Videos, including some shot by Webler on his phone, showed him inside the Capitol singing “Happy Birthday” to himself and exclaiming “Woo, 1776!,” court records say. Webler’s birthday is Jan. 6.


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