A North Carolina man pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiring with other members of the far-right Proud Boys to violently prevent the transfer of presidential power after the 2020 election, making him the first member of the extremist group to plead guilty to a charge of seditious conspiracy.
Jeremy Joseph Bertino, 43, has agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation into the role Proud Boys leaders played in the Jan. 6, 2021 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, a source said. federal prosecutor. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly agreed to release Bertino pending a sentencing hearing that was not immediately scheduled.
Bertino also pleaded guilty to an unlawful possession of firearms charge in March 2022 in Belmont, North Carolina. Kelly accepted his guilty plea to both counts in a brief hearing after the case against Bertino was filed on Thursday.
Justice Department prosecutor Erik Kenerson said the estimated sentencing guidelines for Bertino’s case recommended a prison sentence ranging from four years and three months to five years and three months. The Civil War-era seditious conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Former Proud Boys national president Henry “Ënrique” Tarrio and four other members of the group have also been charged with seditious conspiracy in what prosecutors say was a coordinated attack on the US Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying victory. President Joe Biden’s election in 2020.
A trial for Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola is set to begin in December.
A trial began this week in Washington in the seditious conspiracy case against the founder of the Oath Keepers and other members of the anti-government militia for their part in the January 6 attack.
More than three dozen people charged with the Capitol siege have been identified by federal authorities as leaders, members or associates of the Proud Boys. Two of them – Matthew Greene and Charles Donohoe – pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct an official process, the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote.
Members of the Proud Boys describe the group as a politically incorrect men’s club for “western chauvinists”. They have clashed with anti-fascist activists at rallies and demonstrations. Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys in 2016, has sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for calling it a hate group.
Nordean, of Auburn, Washington, was president of the Proud Boys chapter and a member of the group’s national “Council of Elders.” Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, is a self-proclaimed Proud Boys organizer. Rehl was president of the Proud Boys chapter in Philadelphia. Pezzola is a member of the Proud Boys of Rochester, New York.