High-level Proud Boys member pleads guilty to Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy charge

Far-right Proud Boys member Jeremy Joseph Bertino, second from left, joins other supporters of President Donald Trump who are wearing attire associated with the Proud Boys as they attend a rally at Freedom Plaza, Dec. 12, 2020, in Washington.

Luis M. Alvarez | AP

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 the government, according to government statements made during the plea agreement hearing Thursday.

A court filing detailing the counts against Bertino, 43, said he “did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree” with former national chairman of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, along with 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.”

Nordean, Biggs, Rehl and Donohoe were indicted in March on charges that included conspiracy and obstructing an official proceeding.

In addition to the seditious conspiracy charge, Bertino also pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Stewart Rhodes and four other members of the right-wing militia group known as the Oath Keepers became the first Jan. 6 defendants to go to trial late last month on the charge of seditious conspiracy.

Few defendants have pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

In May, William Todd Wilson, a former leader of the Sampson County chapter of the Oath Keepers, became the third member of the far-right group, following Joshua James and Brian Ulrich, to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy and agree to cooperate with the government.

Under the sentencing guidelines, the government estimates that Bertino faces 51-63 months in prison. The government 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 get approval for any out-of-state or international travel.

More than 850 people have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection, and over 350 have pleaded guilty.

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