An alleged Marine general imposter was in federal court Wednesday.
In November, Ramona resident David Weber admitted to the Ramona Sentinel newspaper, which broke the story, that he was not, in fact, a decorated officer. As recently as Nov. 7, Weber had appeared in a dress uniform at the Ramona VFW, which was holding a ceremony celebrating the Marine Corps birthday. During the event, Weber was honored by being offered the first piece of cake.
On Wednesday, the 69-year-old Weber was arraigned in federal court, accused of a misdemeanor charge of making false claims about military decorations or medals. Arthur Rizer, a special Department of Justice prosecutor, indicated that felony charges could be brought in the case.
Weber is due back in court Thursday for a hearing presided at by Magistrate Judge Ruben Brooks, at which Brooks will determine whether Weber should relinquish an ID card that prosecutors allege represents Weber as a Marine major general. In addition, Weber has a court date scheduled on Jan. 14 for a preliminary hearing.
At one point during the proceedings on Wednesday, Rizer said Weber had a prior conviction and that Weber had missed a court appearance in connection to that case. It was not made clear what that case was about, but defense attorney Joseph Camden said Weber had pleaded guilty in 1994 in connection with the case and had been jailed. Camden said the missed court date was a simple misunderstanding.
The paper reported in November that the FBI had been notified about the situation and that, since the 2005 Stolen Valor Act was passed, officials had been vigorous in prosecuting similar cases. The Marine Corps' Office of the Inspector General told the paper that Weber was ordered to stop wearing the major general's uniform.
"Mr. Weber agreed to cease and desist wearing the Marine major general officer uniform since he was never a general officer," Capt. Michael T. Dowling of the Separation and Retirement Branch at the Marine Corps headquarters, in Quantico, Va., wrote to the paper.
For his part, Weber offered apologies, saying he loved the Marine Corps very much and that he regretted his actions, the paper reported.
"I have often said that God gave us one mouth and two ears so that we would listen more than we talk," Weber told the Ramona Sentinel. "I did not follow that advice."
Weber told the Sentinel that he was in the Marines from 1958-67. He said he was a staff sergeant at the time of his discharge.
On Wednesday, Brooks ordered Weber to post $15,000 bail.