High-level Proud Boy pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy

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06 Oct 2022, 8:27 pm

Jeremy Bertino is the first member of the far-right extremist group to plead guilty to the charge in connection with the attack on the Capitol

A senior member of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, pleaded guilty Thursday to seditious conspiracy, the most serious charge that's been leveled against individuals tied to the Jan. 6 riot.

Jeremy Bertino of North Carolina is the first Proud Boy to plead guilty to the charge in connection with last year's attack on the Capitol.

Judge Timothy Kelly accepted Bertino’s guilty plea and agreement to fully cooperate with prosecutors, according to government statements made during the plea agreement hearing Thursday.

Five other members of the Proud Boys, including the group's former national chairman, Enrique Tarrio, were indicted in June on seditious conspiracy and other charges. They are awaiting trial after pleading not guilty.

A court filing detailing the counts against Bertino, 43, said he "did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree" with Tarrio and group members Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Charles Donohoe, Dominic Pezzola and others, to oppose authority of the government by force “to delay by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of power.”

In addition to the seditious conspiracy charge, Bertino also pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm after a court-authorized search in March of his home in North Carolina related to a previous conviction unearthed six firearms, including an AR-15 style weapon with a scope and more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition.

Bertino joined the Proud Boys around 2018 and served for a time as vice president of the group’s chapter in South Carolina, according to the Justice Department. He traveled to Washington, D.C., “on multiple occasions” in 2020 for rallies, the Justice Department said, and was stabbed in December during a trip with other Proud Boys that turned violent.

He did not travel to D.C. on Jan. 6 as he recovered from his injuries, but continued to participate in planning sessions, according to the Justice Department.

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