A Proud Boys member pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and unauthorized handgun possession for his role in the January 6 attack.
This makes Jeremy Bertino, a former lieutenant in the Proud Boys’ inner circle, the first member of the violent far-right group to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy.
Bertino has also agreed to cooperate with federal investigators. He will cooperate and may testify against five other Proud Boys members, including founder Enrique Tarrio, accused of seditious conspiracy and scheduled for trial in December.
During a House Committee hearing on January 6, congress members played a video of Bertino suggesting that former President Donald Trump’s words that the Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by” tripled the extreme group’s membership in 2020.
Bertino, like Tarrio, is not accused of participating in the actual attack on the Capitol and was not in Washington, D.C., on January 6. However, in his plea, he acknowledged assisting the organization in planning its actions leading up to January 6 and sending encouraging messages to the group’s members when they stormed the Capitol, including pushing them not to leave the building.
Bertino, a formerly convicted criminal, faces a potential term of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and an obligation to pay a penalty of any fine or restitution not paid on time for his seditious conspiracy conviction. Bertino faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison if convicted of unauthorized possession of a weapon.
The court expects him to be sentenced to 51 to 63 months in jail and a fine of $20,000 to $200,000, which Judge Timothy Kelly will decide. The administration is considering decreasing his sentence as a consequence of his cooperation.
Bertino is scheduled to be sentenced on February 2, 2023.
This comes on the heels of the Justice Department’s Monday announcement of the new indictment charging Enrique Tarrio and four members of the far-right extremist Proud Boys for seditious conspiracy. The second indictment alleges coordination leading to the January 6 riot based on promises of violence to disrupt the peaceful transition of power.
All the people charged in the 32-page indictment, including Tarrio, had already faced conspiracy charges for their roles in a plot to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory.
Other members charged include Ethan Nordean, who took over leadership of the Proud Boys on January 6 after Tarrio was asked to leave Washington. Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola are suspected of starting the first Capitol breach by breaking glass with a stolen police riot shield.
The charge comes after another prominent member of the Proud Boys, Charles Donohoe, signed a plea deal and agreed to assist authorities against the organization in April.
In January, the Justice Department accused 11 members of the Oath Keepers paramilitary organization of seditious conspiracy, including the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes.
Since the indictment was returned, three senior members of the organization have pled guilty and promised to help with the DOJ’s investigation; the remaining members have all pleaded not guilty.