UNITED STATES NEWS

Riot plea: Proud Boys member admits to seditious conspiracy

Oct 6, 2022, 7:00 PM | Updated: Oct 7, 2022, 8:58 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — A North Carolina man pleaded guilty Thursday to plotting with other members of the far-right Proud Boys to violently stop the transfer of presidential power after the 2020 election, making him the first member of the extremist group to plead guilty to a seditious conspiracy charge.

Jeremy Joseph Bertino, 43, has agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation of the role that Proud Boys leaders played in the mob’s attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a federal prosecutor said.

Bertino’s cooperation could ratchet up the pressure on other Proud Boys charged in the siege, including former national chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio.

The guilty plea comes as the founder of the another extremist group, the Oath Keepers, and four associates charged separately in the Jan. 6 attack stand trial on seditious conspiracy — a rarely used Civil War era offense that calls for up to 20 years behind bars.

Bertino traveled to Washington with other Proud Boys in December 2020 and was stabbed during a fight, according to court documents. He was not in Washington for the Jan. 6 riot because he was still recovering from his injuries, court papers say.

Bertino participated in planning sessions in the days leading up to Jan. 6 and received encrypted messages as early as Jan. 4 indicating that Proud Boys were discussing possibly storming the Capitol, according to authorities.

A statement of offense filed in court says that Bertino understood the Proud Boys’ goal in traveling to Washington was to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory and that the group was prepared to use force and violence if necessary to do so.

On Jan. 6, Bertino applauded the insurrection from afar and sent messages encouraging other Proud Boys to keep pushing toward the Capitol.

“DO NOT GO HOME. WE ARE ON THE CUSP OF SAVING THE CONSTITUTION,” he wrote on a social media account. That night, he messaged Tarrio, “You know we made this happen.”

Bertino also pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawfully possessing firearms in March 2022 in Belmont, North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly agreed to release Bertino pending a sentencing hearing, which wasn’t immediately scheduled.

Justice Department prosecutor Erik Kenerson said sentencing guidelines for Bertino’s case recommend a prison sentence ranging from four years and three months to five years and three months.

A trial is scheduled to start in December for Tarrio and four other members charged with seditious conspiracy: Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola. The charging document for Bertino’s case names those five defendants and a sixth Proud Boys member as his co-conspirators.

Tarrio’s case is among the most serious charged in the attack, which sent lawmakers running and left dozens of officers bloodied and bruised.

Nayib Hassan, one of Tarrio’s attorneys, said Bertino’s cooperation doesn’t change the landscape for his client’s case. He described Bertino as “just another individual who is going to be testifying.” Tarrio is “still looking forward to his day at trial,” Hassan added.

The indictment in Tarrio’s case alleges that the Proud Boys held meetings and communicated over encrypted messages to plan for the attack in the days leading up to Jan. 6. On the day of the riot, authorities say Proud Boys dismantled metal barricades set up to protect the Capitol and mobilized, directed and led members of the crowd into the building.

Video testimony by Bertino was featured in June at the first hearing by the House committee investigating Jan. 6. The committee showed a clip of Bertino saying that the group’s membership “tripled, probably” after Trump’s comment at a presidential debate that the Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by.”

Tarrio wasn’t in Washington on Jan. 6, but authorities say he helped put into motion the violence that day. Police arrested Tarrio in Washington two days before the riot and charged him with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church during a protest in December 2020. Tarrio was released from jail on Jan. 14 of this year after serving his five-month sentence for that case.

More than three dozen people charged in the Capitol riot have been identified by federal authorities as leaders, members or associates of the Proud Boys. Two — Matthew Greene and Charles Donohoe — pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress for certifying the Electoral College vote.

Proud Boys members describe the group as a politically incorrect men’s club for “Western chauvinists.” They have brawled with antifascist activists at rallies and protests. Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys in 2016, sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for labeling it as a hate group.

Nordean, of Auburn, Washington, was a Proud Boys chapter president and a member of the group’s national “Elders Council.” Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, is a self-described Proud Boys organizer. Rehl was president of the Proud Boys chapter in Philadelphia. Pezzola is a Proud Boys member from Rochester, New York.

___

For full coverage of the Capitol riot, go to https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

FILE - Mega Millions lottery tickets and a wager slip are displayed, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Derry...
Arizona Sports

Drawing nears for $700M Powerball prize, 10th biggest in US

Another huge lottery jackpot will be on the line Saturday for players willing to put up $2 vs. daunting odds of actually winning the prize.
1 day ago
Chinese spy balloon flies above in Charlotte NC, United States on February 04, 2023. The Pentagon a...
Associated Press

US downs suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast

The United States on Saturday downed a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites.
1 day ago
A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. The huge, high-alt...
Associated Press

Chinese balloon soars across US; Blinken scraps Beijing trip

A Chinese balloon sailing across the U.S. drew severe Pentagon accusations and sent excited or alarmed Americans outside with binoculars.
2 days ago
Protesters march Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn., over the death of Tyre Nichols, who di...
Associated Press

6th officer fired after beating death of Tyre Nichols

A sixth Memphis officer was fired Friday after an internal police investigation showed he violated multiple department policies in the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols.
2 days ago
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Denver Court throws out Wyoming doctor’s pill convictions

A federal appeals court on Friday threw out the convictions of a doctor accused of overprescribing powerful pain medication and ordered a new trial for him.
2 days ago
A hiring sign is displayed at a restaurant in Rolling Meadows, Ill., Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. America...
Associated Press

A surprising burst of US hiring in January: 517,000 jobs

WASHINGTON (AP) — For nearly a year, the Federal Reserve has been on a mission to cool down the job market to help curb the nation’s worst inflation bout in four decades. The job market hasn’t been cooperating. Consider what happened in January: The government said Friday that employers added a sizzling 517,000 jobs last […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Riot plea: Proud Boys member admits to seditious conspiracy