High-profile Proud Boys member pleads guilty to January 6 seditious conspiracy charge

A senior member of the far-right Proud Boys pleaded guilty on Thursday to seditious conspiracythe most serious charge against individuals linked to the January 6 riot.

North Carolina’s Jeremy Bertino is the first Proud Boy to plead guilty to the charge related to last year’s attack on the Capitol.

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

Five other members of the Proud Boys, including the group’s former national president, 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 charges against Bertino, 43, said he “knowingly combined, conspired, confederated and agreed” with Tarrio and band members Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Charles Donohoe, Dominic Pezzola and others, to oppose the authority of government by force “to delay by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of power”.

Nordean, Biggs, Rehl and Donohoe were charged in March with conspiracy and obstruction of official process. Donohoe, of Kernesville, North Carolina, pleaded guilty in April to conspiring to obstruct official process and assaulting, resisting or embarrassing officers.

In addition to the seditious conspiracy charge, Bertino also pleaded guilty on Thursday to a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm after a court-authorized search in March of his North Carolina home linked to a conviction. earlier unearthed six guns, including an AR-15. style weapon with a range and over 3,000 rounds.

Bertino joined the Proud Boys around 2018 and served for a time as vice president of the group’s South Carolina chapter, according to the Justice Department. He traveled to Washington, DC, ‘several times’ in 2020 for rallies, the Justice Department said, and was stabbed in December while traveling with other Proud Boys that turned violent .

He did not travel to DC on Jan. 6 while recovering from his injuries, but continued to participate in planning sessions, according to the Justice Department.

Few of the defendants have pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol.

In May, William Todd Wilson, former leader of the Sampson County branch of the Oath Keepers, became the third member of the right-wing militia, after Joshua James and Brian Ulrichto plead guilty to seditious conspiracy and agree to cooperate with the government.

Founder of Oath Keepers Stewart Rhodes and four other members of the group became the first defendants of January 6 go to trial at the end of last month on charges of seditious conspiracy.

According to sentencing guidelines, the government estimates Bertino faces 51 to 63 months in prison. Prosecutors will file a sentencing status report in February.

Bertino will remain out of jail pending sentencing, but will be ordered to check in weekly with pre-trial services and obtain approval for any out-of-state or international travel.

More than 850 people have been charged in connection with the January 6 uprising and more than 350 have pleaded guilty.

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