The Justice Department will now have the cooperation of Proud Boy Jeremy Bertino in its case against the extremist group’s leader, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, and four other members currently facing charges of seditious conspiracy.
Bertino, a resident of North Carolina, entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. In addition to admitting that he conspired to forcibly stop the transfer of power on Jan. 6, 2021, with members of the Proud Boys, Bertino has admitted to possessing firearms illegally. The weapons were found during a search of his home this March. Bertino was not eligible to own the gun as a former felon.
His cooperation with the department’s probe of the attack at the U.S. Capitol is expected to earn him leniency at sentencing. The maximum sentence for sedition is 20 years in prison. The gun charge poses a five-year maximum sentence.
Tarrio and members of the self-proclaimed “Western chauvinist” group are slated to go on trial for sedition in December.
Bertino, who once served as the vice president of his local Proud Boys chapter in North Carolina, was a high-ranking member of the neofascist group.
He pleaded guilty to the charge because of his involvement in the plotting. But when Jan. 6 arrived, Bertino wasn’t in Washington.
He had been stabbed on Dec. 12 outside of a D.C. bar, reported to be a Proud Boys hangout. Thousands of Trump’s supporters—many of them Proud Boys and Oath Keepers—had come to the city to support Trump’s bogus claims of a rigged election.
Four people were stabbed that night, Bertino included. Nine were injured, and just under three dozen people were arrested. Counterprotesters and Proud Boys were involved in various skirmishes throughout the day. The group’s leader, Henry Tarrio, stole a Black Lives Matter banner from a historic Black church and set it aflame in the street. Tarrio was arrested in D.C. on Jan. 4, 2021. A search of his bag during the arrest turned up two high-capacity firearm magazines. Tarrio told police he intended to sell the magazines to someone in Washington, D.C. He was released on bond and later pleaded guilty. He has already served jail time for that crime.
As for Bertino, he was hospitalized after Dec. 12, and prosecutors say he was still recovering by the time his fellow Proud Boys were barreling toward the nation’s capital.
“But for those injuries, Bertino would have traveled to the District of Columbia on January 6,” his statement of his offense notes.
Bertino Statement of Offense by Daily Kos on Scribd
Bertino was close to Tarrio.
It was Tarrio who invited him to join the Proud Boys' “Ministry of Self Defense” or MOSD, with other members including Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, and Zachary Rehl. That group was central to the planning of Jan. 6, prosecutors argue.
All are now facing charges of seditious conspiracy and will go on trial in December. Rehl, Nordean, Biggs, and Tarrio have pleaded not guilty.
Together, according to Bertino’s statement of offense, they worked toward a mutual goal: Stop the certification of the Electoral College vote by doing “whatever it would take, including using force of police and others to achieve that objective.”
Storming the Capitol violently would ensure Congress would bow to the demands of the Proud Boys and other extremists, Bertino admits in his plea.
Text chats he has now copped to undoubtedly complicate matters for his onetime cohorts.
One of those texts was sent to Tarrio after the attack on the Capitol.
“You know we made this happen,” Bertino wrote.
Bertino has also cooperated with the Select Committee Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol. He described recruiting efforts to the committee in a brief clip aired during the committee hearings this summer. When Trump told Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during the 2020 presidential debates, Bertino told the committee membership numbers shot up “exponentially.”
Bertino’s cooperation could potentially shed light on other figures like Roger Stone and Alex Jones, too. Tarrio is a longtime friend of Stone’s, and Biggs once worked for Jones. Members from each network shared a text channel dubbed “Friends of Stone” on the encrypted app, Signal.
Witness protection has been offered to the 43-year-old Proud Boy as well, according to a copy of his plea agreement.
Plea Agreement Bertino by Daily Kos on Scribd
Bertino Guilty Plea by Daily Kos on Scribd