Oct 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Proud Boys member pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy over Jan. 6

Proud Boys marching through D.C. in December 2020.

Proud Boys marching through D.C. in December 2020. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

A member of the Proud Boys on Thursday pleaded guilty to a charge of seditious conspiracy over his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, becoming the first member of the far-right group to plead guilty to such charges.

Why it matters: Jeremy Bertino's guilty plea potentially gives the Department of Justice a key witness against Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other members who will face trial over seditious conspiracy and other charges later this year.

  • Bertino, 43, a former leader of the Proud Boys, also pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm, the Justice Department said.
  • Bertino faces up to 20 years in prison for the seditious conspiracy charge and up to 10 years in prison for the firearms charge, including potential financial penalties. A sentencing date has yet to be set.

What they're saying: The Justice Department said Bertino joined the Proud Boys in 2018 and was at one point the vice president of a group chapter in South Carolina.

  • It said he traveled to Washington, D.C., multiple times in 202o for Proud Boys rallies and participated in planning sessions for the group's appearance in the capital on Jan. 6.
  • The DOJ said Bertino knew that the purpose of the trip to D.C. "was to stop the certification of the Electoral College Vote" and that group leaders "were willing to do whatever it would take, including using force against police and others, to achieve that objective."

The big picture: Bertino previously told the Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot that the group saw an exponential growth in membership following former President Trump's "stand back and stand by" comment during the first 2020 presidential debate.

Read the guilty plea:

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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